04 April 2009

V are not amused

The previously unthinkable has finally happened: Barry Ferguson has been dropped and stripped of the Rangers captaincy, for his act of gross stupidity on Wednesday night at Hampden.

The eight-hour drinking session following the game against the Netherlands should have set alarm bells ringing, and the Burley compromise - dropping him and McGregor to the bench seemed elegant enough: it didn't require a major overhaul of the squad and left the door open for both players to return should they prove their worth. And of course, Craign Gordon put in an assured performance between the sticks (there wasn't much he could do about the Iceland goal), while Scott Brown may not fully justify the hype he gets, but is good on his day. Wednesday, fortunately, was his day and for me, he performed better than Darren Fletcher, whose presence I simply didn't register for most of the Iceland game. So Ferguson and McGregor get a simple punishment for wrong-doing, they have an opportunity to work their way back into favour, Burley picks too good replacements and Scotland gets the result. Everyone wins. Well, everyone except Iceland.


Ferguson and McGregor, who in any other walk of life would be suitably chastened at getting a bollocking for acting like complete idiots in the first place (which does make you wonder what, if any, bollocking they got and whether or not any punsihment at all was even Burley's idea), then sit on the subs bench and act like utter children. In so doing, they show the sort of petulance that we shouldn't expect from a job from a professional footballer, but sadly, seems to be all too common. They embarrass themselves, they embarrass their country and - you'd think the second point would be the key one but it's actually this one that seems to generate the bigger hoo-hah - as representatives of their club in the squad, bring Rangers into disrepute.

And the Club acted. Even after the SFA decided either didn't notice or chose to ignore that the pair's actions, the Club told its players that enough was enough, and in so doing, shamed the SFA into further action. Hallelujah.

There's a very large school of thought within the Rangers fanbase which takes the view that the Sun shines out of Barry Ferguson's arse. I must confess that I am not one of its members: I think he's provided an abysmal lack of proper Leadership to Rangers on the pitch since his return from that disastrous spell at Blackburn Rovers; I've noticed his preformances are below the standard you might expect from him, particularly this season, and the effect he's had on Rangers this season has been nothing short of catastrophic. Think of the early games, when Thomson was partnered with Mendes in midfield, and not only did Rangers get results but played first class football. Then Thomson got injured, just as Ferguson returned from the treatment table, and suddenly, a large black cloud of doom hung over Ibrox. The performances evaporated, the results disappeared with them and there must have been times when Mendes wondered what on earth he had done to deserve playing alongside Fergie.

Add to that the malign influence he's had in internal Ibrox politics: Ferguson's lack of respect for Paul Le Guen did more than anyone to undermine the manager - who had his faults, mainly a basic failure to understand that you can't plan for both teams, you can only plan for your own (though I also believe that if his commitment to the club had been cast-iron, he would have learned how to pronounce 'Rangers' and 'Ibrox' correctly) - and it's no co-incidence that probably the best result and most organised Rangers performance under Le Guen's tenure came at Fir Park, in the match after PLG's decision to drop Ferguson. Unfortunately, despite that, the Ferguson Fan Brigade got their way and Le Guen was out. At that point it became obvious where power lay at Ibrox, and Ferguson gained the same aura of invincibility that Alan Shearer enjoyed as a player at Newcastle. What Barry wanted, Barry got.

So perhaps, just perhaps, Barry was trying the same stunt again, trying to undercut George Burley. Again, there's a cogent case against the gaffer: results have been far from perfect (Scotland's place in a play-off berth should be far more secure than it presently is: we are only three points ahead of Iceland and out of the nine teams currently in second place, we rank seventh on the calculations used to determine who gets one of the eight play-off spots), some of the selections have been questionable (you're not teling me that Graham Alexander is the only alternative to Alan Hutton, or that Steven Fletcher justifies his hype, or that Dundee United, Aberdeen and Motherwell don't have any players who could have started for Scotland), you don't alienate a striker who can find the back of the net without even trying to break into a sweat and the last week shows that Burley has a way of being overtaken by events. You don't want that in a Scotland boss, and frankly, I would have preferred Craig Levein at the helm.

But nevertheless, he is the Boss. Not Allan McGregor, and certainly not Barry Ferguson. It's not the place of any player to decide that their manager's jacket is on the proverbial shoogly peg. That Fergie was allowed to get away with it ever was pitiful.

And the sad thing is, that despite Ferguson being the likely source of the troubles, he will probably salvage something: the pair of them don't have much of a future in Scottish football but Ferguson does at least have Dick Advocaat in his corner and will more than likely end up joining the Dutchman at Zenit St. Petersburg; Allan McGregor, despite being a decent goalie, could end up being quite literally sent to Coventry.

And all because they couldn't stop one drink turning into a session, then took the huff when they got a bad press.


subrosa said...

Not being a football fan I don't know the ins and outs of all this so thanks for explaining. What I do know is that it was all over the radio yesterday and the talk of Talksport in the early morning.

Shame on them for bringing Scotland into disrepute.

Mark McDonald said...


I will tell you now. There are no Aberdeen players who would get a start for Scotland.

Maybe, just maybe, Lee Miller, but he poses little threat infront of goal.

Will said...

Maybe so, Mark, but that hasn't stopped Kenny Miller from getting in. And not only does he have his own cow's arse/banjo interface incapability issues but he also seems to have that permanent look of excruciating pain about him. Frankly, I'd prefer Lee to Kenny...

Ted Haevey said...

Being an agnostic about Scottish football I never could understand why a particular section of the Ibrox fans ever took Ferguson seriously after his abysmal failure in England followed by his 'oh, all right then, I'll come back to Ibrox' and then acting like a petulant wee locker room bully who could no longer do it on the pitch.

But surely the most significant and fascinating think about all this is just why did Rangers FC decide to act in a fully honourable and professional way, i.e. by kicking the two twats out.

I can forgive SFA's initial indecision becuase is it not one of the stark negatives about Scottish football that the sectarian tribalism of the Old Firm is reflected in the governance of the Scottish game? In other words, the SFA would have excerciseed the usual auto-response intially and not wanted to over-rock the boat with one of the tribes of the Old Firm?

So why did the Ibrox regime act as the catalyst (especially given the Ferguson fraternity among the fan base)?