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Gers' weaknesses are not confined solely to the pitch

By Julian Taylor

Seldom can the glossy imagery have seemed so detached from reality.

'Together We Are Rangers' splashed the colourful billboards of smiling fans garnishing Glasgow's subway system, as the Ibrox club try to keep onside a loyal support that has been comprehensively short-changed all season.

For it's season ticket renewal time, and the shiny marketing contrasts with a splintered dressing room which has rocketed this club towards chaos and embarrassment.

Divisions between senior players and embattled interim manager Graeme Murty had been rumoured but, unsurprisingly, in the emotive, humiliating moments after Sunday's 4-0 capitulation against a classy Celtic side, serious home truths were traded.

The upshot is that veteran striker Kenny Miller and captain Lee Wallace, both suspended, are unlikely to play for the Light Blues again.

Miller and Wallace launched into Murty at Hampden regarding his handling of the Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final, and if the inexperienced boss feels their subsequent exile is a face-saving exercise for his own reputation, then he is badly mistaken.

No-one emerges from this damaged, characterless apology for a dressing room well - least of all Murty, who should have been relieved of his duties on Monday if the Ibrox board had any conviction.

Instead, the Under-20 coach - promoted far beyond his proficiency because of Rangers' lack of resolve to attract a respected figure to cajole a group of players lacking in pretty much every area you care to mention - has been left to labour for the final five games of this season. Rangers have still to secure European football next term. There is a real prospect of Hearts winning at Ibrox on Saturday and, worse for Murty, a trip to Celtic Park is also to be somehow negotiated. Neil Lennon, whose Hibernian team have enjoyed a fine campaign, can be the beneficiaries of this crisis.

The bitter message from both Miller and Wallace was, presumably, issued with sufficient venom to make Murty dash to the boardroom. Still, it points to obvious individual weakness, plus a lack of authority. Harsh words are an everyday occurrence behind the scenes at all levels of football and Murty's avoidance of necessary conflict is an indictment of both him and, moreover, a boardroom that has erred again in terms of the club's most important appointment. Murty is another new age Rangers failure, alongside predecessors Mark Warburton and Pedro Caixinha. Supporters have little confidence in chairman Dave King and managing director Stewart Robertson to make informed, shrewd calls.

Time is up for Miller and Wallace, but all the whole saga does is enlarge a picture of a club lacking strong characters capable of responding to the sort of harm twice inflicted by Celtic of late.

When Walter Smith was guiding Rangers to nine-in-a-row, flare ups were commonplace.

Paul Gascoigne and Ally McCoist, for instance, had a row at half-time in the 1996 League Cup final, a game the Light Blues went on to win. Smith, like any authoritative manager, kept all dissention in-house.

Additionally, Lorenzo Amoruso was stripped of the captaincy during Dick Advocaat's reign of gunboat diplomacy, but the popular Italian defender still went out and performed admirably, despite the tangled relationship.

This current Rangers squad contains no hint of either the class or steely character of key men from their nineties golden age, yet it's hardly the point.

The lack of fundamental appetite to reduce an Old Firm clash to a battle of wills at the very least simply reflects Murty's cluelessness. The Gers' only outside chance against Celtic on Sunday lay with aggression. It's not exactly a sophisticated message for any half-competent coach to administer, is it?

Instead, it was clear that Murty's containment policy was doomed to failure against the team's natural instincts, in a game where the Light Blues had nothing, except their pride, to lose. Beyond the undignified dumping of two players and a fragile self-esteem, Rangers are a lurching shambles.

• Shamrock Rovers have announced that Alan Mannus is coming back to the club after seven years with St Johnstone.

The former Northern Ireland international will be available from July 1.

Belfast Telegraph

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