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

The Herald - Herald Sport - - INTERVIEW - MATTHEW LIND­SAY

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.

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