Rangers fans will have been disappointed to have seen their side knocked out of the League Cup this week and some people have been quick to stick the boot in but I think you have to appreciate that despite the fantastic success the club has seen in recent weeks Rangers are still a Championship club.
This means they aren’t attracting the exact type of players they would like to see at a club of that size at this precise moment, I think the defeat to St Johnstone could prove a blessing in the long run though as the most important thing for the Light Blues this season is to win the Championship.
Obviously they want to challenge in the cups but they shouldn’t be judged too harshly as winning the league has to be the number one priority.
If and when they go up they’ll then be able to attract some stronger players and will be able to challenge on all fronts once again.
There won’t be a transitional period at Rangers that there might be at other clubs, however, as they will have to challenge immediately. It might be a bit premature but that’s the reality of being at Rangers and something the manager and players will have to deal with.
Ultimately though everyone should be really encouraged by the advances they’ve made in such a short space of time.
Games like St Johnstone can serve as a reminder that they haven’t arrived yet. Complacency is the biggest evil so Mark Warburton can use that loss as motivation. It is a setback but it also shows that there is a way to go.
In the league attention is turning to whether or not Rangers can have the perfect season, or remain undefeated but that is a tall order.
The winter will bring bigger challenges with poor playing surfaces and I wouldn’t want to put undue pressure on a manager to win every game. Focus on the results and the exciting brand of football he’s got them playing and enjoy it.
There is a long way to go and Hibs and Falkirk and others can still take the challenge to Rangers and will want to avoid the play-offs.
The current system is much-improved as when I was at Falkirk only one side could go up.
However, it is still massively skewed in favour of the Premiership clubs.
It’s a drawn out process for the Championship clubs and while there is still the incentive of fewer games to motivate you to finish higher up the league, a streamlined process of two semi-finals involving the three Championship sides and one for the Premiership would be fairer and a more exciting way to go.
Belief and expectation the way for Hearts to beat Celtic
I think I cursed Hearts in my last blog as their magnificent start to the season has faltered somewhat with three consecutive defeats.
They had huge momentum in those early games and there is no need for them to deviate from their gameplan.
It’s very important to be consistent with your message to the players and I believe Robbie Neilson is. There will be setbacks along the way but I’m confident they’ll get back on track. They had a really good result in the cup against Kilmarnock as to be losing 2-1 with a few minutes to go and then get the win shows the spirit is very high within the club.
It was hugely important to get the win inside 90 minutes as extra time would have been far from ideal with trip to Celtic Park this weekend.
The expectation on Saturday won’t be as high as it might have been three weeks ago but that might be a good thing.
Robbie has said if Hearts defend like they did against Killie they’ll get taken apart and I can see his frustration as he works very hard on his defensive structure. He works tirelessly on the training field with his defenders but there is only so much a manager can do. The players have to take some responsibility.
Celtic will ask plenty of questions so they’ll have to get the basics right and I hope Hearts go there and play in the manner that we know they can.
Confidence will be key though. I know from my time as a player at Hearts that we used to go there with hope rather than expectation and the results reflected that.
As we grew as a team though we went there expecting and believing we could get a positive result and we ended up having many good games. If you go with confidence and expectation you have a chance and that’s what Robbie will be relaying to his team.
I wouldn’t say this is a good time to play Celtic but they will be under pressure this weekend having lost to Aberdeen as they can’t afford to go eight points behind the Dons.
They’ve not had this type of challenge since Rangers have been out of the league but it’s welcome and something that Celtic needed.
Talk of Ronny Deila facing the axe though is unfair. Everyone has to appreciate that he has been stripped of his very best players.
He’s had to sell them for big profit but they haven’t spent vast amounts to replace those that have left.
He’s not come in and spent loads of money, he’s trying to develop players for the club so there can’t be too much blame placed at his door. Ronny’s a good coach and his position shouldn’t be called into question. Over the course of the season he’ll be expected to win the league, as anyone would at Celtic with the resources available there, so he should be given time and judged at the end of the season.
Players need to start taking responsibility – It can’t always be the manager’s fault
I’m not speaking about Ronny here, or Ian Baraclough who was let go at Motherwell this week, but for me the blame culture has gone too far in football as far as managers are concerned.
I’m very protective of mangers and from the outside looking in it’s got to an incredible situation where players are being paid vast amounts of money yet seems to take no responsibility on their shoulders.
It seems that every single problem – be it a badly-timed tackle, a misplaced pass or a missed penalty – is always the manager’s fault.
It’s getting ridiculous. Look at Sunderland now, they are going through manager after manager and there comes a point where you have to look deeper. There has to be better support mechanisms for the manager already in place.
I actually think that in general managers get more time in Scotland than most paces but how can a manager prove himself if he’s sacked at the first sign of trouble?
We can all look good when our sides are wining but it’s when a side is going through a bad patch but the manager retains the confidence of the payers and turns things around that he can really prove his worth.
A great example of that is how Sir Alex Ferguson turned things around at both Aberdeen and Manchester United. He struggled at Pittodrie at first but they stuck with him and the respect and the silverware came from there.
It was the same at United where he was supposedly just one game away from the axe but we all know what happened there, he was given time to get things right and is now probably the greatest manager of all time.
How are we going to find the next Sir Alex if every single thing that goes wrong on a pitch is attributed to the manager?
It’s getting ridiculous and players need to start shouldering some of the blame for what goes wrong on the pitch.
Having said that, I’m desperate to get back into the dugout as I personally love the pressure that comes with running a football club.
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