Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Finally, Rangers are looking up

Rangers manager Ally McCoist
Rangers manager Ally McCoist

What a turbulent and emotional year it's been for everyone connected to Rangers Football Club.

Going into administration then being liquidated sent shockwaves reverberating around world football, but 12 months on the club are attempting to claw their way back to where they once belonged.

There was a genuine feeling in Glasgow that they would emerge from administration but when they didn't, football fans and media alike started to wonder if this really could be the end of an institution, not just in Scottish football terms but globally as well.

Thankfully the club meant too much to too many people and gradually they have climbed off the floor, proving their doubters wrong and re-emerging in Division Three.

The resolute Rangers manager Ally McCoist summed up the degree of turmoil suffered by those associated with the club by his response to former owner Craig Whyte's admission he sleeps well at night despite all the chaos he caused.

McCoist talked about what the vast majority of staff at Rangers experienced over the last year and how it was such a difficult period but that they are now on an upward ascent and the staff may even be enjoying their jobs again!

On the pitch there's a long way to go and with league reconstruction a hot topic in Scotland, Rangers are not sure where they will be playing their football next season and beyond.

The squad has been rebuilt and is a shadow of what it previously was.

Seasoned internationals like Steven Davis and Steven Naismith have been replaced by emerging talent like Barrie MacKay and Lewis McLeod – and they are thriving under the spotlight.

The emergence of the youngsters has been the shining light so far for me.

The likelihood is that they wouldn't have had an opportunity to play regularly for the first team if Rangers had remained an SPL club but when they eventually find their way back to the top flight those youngsters will be the heartbeat of the club.

Off the field the fans in particular have been a tower of strength both with their financial backing and in support of the team. The attendances at Ibrox have been incredible to say the least with many cynics predicting early on that they would eventually dwindle, stating the initial large crowds were based on defiance.

Well, the fans have made a mockery of that theory and have continued to support their club in impressive numbers, helping their side open a 22 point lead at the top of the Third Division.

Unlike Whyte, the whole episode that surrounded Rangers from February to June last year will have meant a lot of owners, chairmen and chief executives losing sleep.

For years clubs around the world have over extended themselves financially in an attempt to bring success.

Their heart is in the right place but football has such an effect that you can get carried away with the emotion of it all.

The winning feeling is a great buzz and is like a drug – once you get a taste of it you want more but it has to be done in a viable way and Rangers' situation will have been a wake-up call to many.

A lot of harsh lessons will have been learned at Rangers from their experiences and one thing is for sure, they will never want to be in that position again.

The togetherness shown by many at Ibrox has ensured the club has been resurrected and will one day no doubt reclaim its rightful place – in the SPL.

Soon the new Rangers will claim their first piece of silverware, the Third Division trophy, the first of many the fans will hope.

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