Judging and gauging the mood of Rangers support is an almost impossible task. It is too numerous and geographically widespread, diverse in age, background, and worldview to be classified as a single entity.
The common denominator, of course, is that every member demands and expects success at Ibrox. When that’s not the case, the individual voices become collective and the louder the shouting, the harder life becomes for the Rangers hierarchy.
The Union Bears teased boss Michael Beale with their banner – one that proclaimed: “Two trophies in 11 years – keep the standards that matter” – during the win over Livingston two weeks ago. Since then, Beale’s side have failed to make the roll of honor and defeat by Celtic has raised the temperature yet again.
The same group of supporters chose to make their feelings clear once again on Saturday. Just minutes after what turned out to be a relatively reticent and uncomplicated three points against Kilmarnock, a message read: “After 55 titles you’ve lost sight of the ball. Time for change” was unfolded in the Broomloan front.
Supporters were divided over the significance and timing of the Union Bears’ intervention last month. This time there was support from around the world as fans clapped to show their approval.
Those in the director’s box hadn’t missed the sight or the sound. Also to their right was another banner with the faces of Stewart Robertson and Ross Wilson.
The same image of the CEO and sporting director has been circulating widely on the web for the past few days. Some of the graphics feature board members, including Chairman Douglas Park, as hostility towards those in the corridors of power has increased.
The feelings didn’t just form in the days after the Celtic defeat. That moment was the turning point, but the problems have been piling up steadily for some time and it was just one instance where the frustration simmering beneath the surface erupted into anger.
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So much of the mess – from Australia-friendliness to merchandise, from transfers to customer service – has been created by the Rangers directors and executives themselves, and calls for sweeping changes are nothing new. The crucial point is how many the board thinks for or against them.
All of these issues can be managed and then forgotten as the last bit of business gets done and cutlery overshadows everything at Ibrox. When the team wins, it acts as a one-size-fits-all solution to all problems, and voices of dissatisfaction can be marginalized.
The board could dismiss a few banners and a round of applause as nothing more than hate speech if they wished. A surge in the numbers would be impossible to ignore, and they’ll have no choice but to really take notice when the pounds stop gaining at the remarkable pace they’ve been doing for so long.
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So the coming weeks will be very informative. Is this dissatisfaction a flash in the pan after an old-firm defeat that will eventually wear off? Or is it the start of pressuring and asking questions about where Rangers are and where they are going?
Every member of Beale’s squad is playing for their future right now. Likewise, key figures at Ibrox must convince supporters that they are the right men to lead Rangers to great honours.
That’s not one league title out of five or a single cup in the same period. It’s enduring success, glory in the manner Celtic have achieved time and time again, even as managers, players and decision makers have come and gone.
Rangers as a club and company are formed and driven from the top down. Park had the opportunity to present his vision for the future at the AGM in December and didn’t exactly wow the audience with his speech or message.
A short, monotonous reply to “The plan for the next five years is to win as many trophies as possible, build a team that can win as many games as possible and invest as much as possible in the club.” was not greeted with boisterous enthusiasm, and Robertson and Wilson later bore the brunt of the criticism from the ground.
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The board had given themselves a new sign a few days earlier, with Beale replacing Giovanni van Bronckhorst. That was all well and good then, but fans are now looking for the right answers, for real guidance, and the questions and criticism will only increase in number and regularity unless the future looks brighter sooner rather than later.
Beale’s calls for patience in recent days have been made with the knowledge that they will largely fall on deaf ears. He’s in a club where second is last, where time is of the essence, and where the price of failure is the exit door.
That should be at board and board level as well as for the players and the manager and the goals of Saturday’s banners need to be aware that the only way the situation will escalate is if Rangers end another season empty-handed while the Parkhead trophy room contains all three pieces of cutlery again.
Rangers fans have been incredibly patient. Year after year they have invested their money and backed bosses – some inspiring, others simply inept – and a club that won the title two years ago and reached a European final last May should not be seen as underdogs in a two-horse race get ranked .
Supporters have done their bit and earned their right to express their feelings. As another famous Banner once said, Rangers fans deserve better.
https://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/football/23364169.rangers-fans-deserve-better-banner-takes-aim-under-fire-board/?ref=rss Rangers fans deserve better as the banner is aimed at the under fire board