Rangers must splash cash to give themselves a chance
If you’re a fan, policy of running club as a business is not great for winning titles, says former manager
GRAEME SOUNESS, the former Rangers manager who resurrected the fortunes of the Ibrox club with a lavish recruitment drive during the 1980s, has appealed to Dave King, the current chairman and major shareholder, to spend more money on players.
Souness led Rangers to their first Scottish title in nine years during the 1986/87 season after stunning British football and signing England internationalists Terry Butcher, Graham Roberts and Chris Woods.
The Glasgow club have brought in Joey Barton, Niko Kranjcar and Philippe Senderos, players with considerable reputations down south, since winning the Ladbrokes Championship – and promotion to the top flight – last season.
However, Mark Warburton’s side lost their first meeting of the season against defending champions Celtic 5-1 at Parkhead earlier this month and have quickly fallen some way behind their city rivals in the Premiership table.
The current regime at Rangers is attempting to restore stability after years of corporate vandalism and financial mismanagement and is wrestling with a raft of complex historical issues – not least the retail agreement they inherited.
However, Souness admits that he wants King and his fellow directors to make increased funds available so that Warburton can assemble a team capable of competing with their city rivals for the Scottish title.
“I would liked to have seen, like all Rangers supporters, the owner spend some money and give the manager a real chance,” said Souness.
“It looks like they are spending what they generate so he is running it as a business. If you are him or a director, that is something you have to run with. But if you are a supporter it is not great.
“I am a supporter and like every supporter I am not interested in the bottom line, as long as we stay solvent. Find the money from somewhere and give the manager a chance.”
Warburton has, despite not having the luxury of the budget that his Celtic counterpart Brendan Rodgers has at his disposal, come in for severe criticism, including from Rangers supporters, for the way his team have performed in the Premiership this season.
But Souness, who won three Scottish titles and four League Cup trophies during his five years in charge at Ibrox, has urged the Englishman to stay true to his principles and called on fans to be more understanding of the conditions their manager is working under.
“He should keep doing what you think is right,” he said. “Last year they played attractive football and dominated a game at Hampden against Celtic. Celtic started the season with the strongest group because they have, on paper, the best players. They are the champions and Rangers are a team that got promoted.
“It was a hell of an ask for Rangers to come up and to look to win it this year. For all the Rangers supporters, and I know the emotion involved in Old Firm games, you have to be rational and think long term of the bigger picture. It would be a big ask for any team to come from the lower league to the Premiership and win it.”
Warburton’s attempts to make Rangers a major force in the Premiership this season have been hindered considerably by the unwanted publicity which has been generated by the three-week suspension handed out to Barton.
Souness, who met the former Newcastle United, Manchester City, Queens Park Rangers and Marseille player when he was working at the Euro 2016 finals in the summer, suggested the midfielder may have underestimated the challenge he faced at Rangers.
The Scot stressed the Englishman would “deeply regret it” if, as looks highly likely, his lack of discipline leads to him parting company with the Glasgow club in the coming weeks.
“I met Joey last summer when we were doing TV work at the Euros,” he said. “He’s a young man who has encouraged the wrong type of publicity, but I couldn’t have been more wrong when I met him. I found him charming, sensible and knowledgeable about football. He was really interested in the game and wanted to remain in football as a coach.
“He truly loves football and what he was offering up about the game was a lot of common sense. As far as I was concerned it was good stuff. He talked at length about how excited he was about joining Glasgow Rangers.
“He knew it was a big football club, but he had no idea just how big it was. I told him he only knew half. I told him it would get under his skin and it would be something he would remember for the rest of his life. That’s how it is when you’re involved with Glasgow Rangers.
“He said to me it was a big football club and I told him he was underestimating it, it’s not a big football club. The passion involved is far greater than anywhere else I’ve worked. In that respect I said to Joey, ‘you think you know it’s a big club, well wait until you get into it’.”
Souness added: “He has found himself where he is now and I can’t comment on that as I wasn’t there when it happened. Joey will deeply regret it. But he’s obviously got himself on the wrong side of the manager.
“Mark Warburton will deal with it in the way he sees fit and proper for, firstly, the benefit of Rangers and secondly, for his career at Rangers.”
REALITY CHECK: Former Rangers manager Graeme Souness believes Joey Barton underestimated his move to Ibrox.