London Hearts Supporters Club

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Tommy McLean <-auth James Traynor auth-> Willie Young
[C Miller 1]
2 of 002 ----- L Premier A

Rangers still get it right when they do everything wrong.

Ibrox seventh heaven is hell for Scottish football


23 Jan 1995

STOP the nonsense now.

Just tell Rangers they can keep the premier division championship trophy.

But let's hold the ball for a minute.

Someone has to take stock of what exactly is going on in our game.

Frankly, it has become so one-sided it is embarrassing.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, any other team can come up with will prevent Rangers from winning their seventh successive title, so perhaps it is time to call a halt and take stock.

There has to be an analysis of what is going on before we find there is no way back towards a truly competitive league.

It is all very well to talk about cycles, peaks and troughs, or that the good times will come around for others, they always do.

Heard it all before.

The fact is, we are living in an altogether different time in which the strong get more powerful and the rich grow wealthier.

Rangers are proving that even when they are at their weakest they remain too potent for their rivals, as Hearts will testify.

The Tynecastle side walked into a match at Ibrox having taken 11 points from their previous four games, and even though Rangers scored a minute after the kick-off, when Brian Laudrup's artistry again created a chance, this time taken in some style by Charlie Miller, it quickly became obvious Walter Smith's team were badly off form.

They had no recognised strikers because of injury, they couldn't pass, especially out of an erratic defence, and quite a few of the players were unable to make tackles.

In fact, here was a team which was doing just about everything wrong.

So what happens? Do Hearts recover their composure and take advantage of Rangers' inadequacies? No.

Instead, they lose and Rangers, despite themselves, edge closer to the title.

Occasionally a team will be able to win even when playing badly, but the really scary aspect of what is happening in the premier division is that Rangers have not had to perform at their best consistently to amass points.

Neither have they been made to suffer because of the horrendous injury list which has prevented Smith from fielding the same team more than twice in succession.

The rigours of life in the top division also have taken a toll on others, but they have not had to do without as many of their key players as Rangers.

Yet the Ibrox side are 14 points in front and going away.

Yes, it seems to me all of us, including Smith, should be concerned.

How can he expect to shape a team capable of making an impact in the Champions' League if his players can get away with so many sub-standard performances? How can our game in general have any credibility when only one team appears capable of winning the title?

People say it will end when the great imaginary pendulum, which is supposed to regulate such matters, swings in favour of some other club at some pre-ordained point in time.

Call me a cynic -- and why not.

If Hearts chairman Chris Robinson, who didn't much care for my suggestion before Saturday's match that he was just a tad naive, can call me a cynic, then you can, too -- but I've never been willing to sit in the school which teaches about natural cycles in our sporting environments.

Me? I think it usually comes down to skill and tactics.

If you have more skilled players with greater determination than the rest, chances are you will win the title, and that's why Rangers are dominating.

Even those players who are considered surplus to Ibrox requirements can get a game with Rangers' rivals.

Now, the really worrying part is that if Rangers continue to spend large amounts -- Walter Smith could have as much as £7m to spend on players this summer -- they will retain their place at the front.

The only way Celtic can overtake them is if Tommy Burns is allowed to shop in the same market as Smith, but even then Celtic will have to hope their manager is a more astute buyer.

Celtic have a duty to themselves and the game in general to challenge Rangers' supremacy, because other clubs who regard themselves as big-time in our own small world simply do not have the resources to mount an assault.

Fortunately, Rangers are not so strong at the moment that they will never be overtaken, but if they are not reined in soon the day could come when they will be untouchable within their own domain.

Tommy McLean said the second half of Saturday's match was a bore, but a greater monotony might still be building up.

Rangers' supporters might enjoy winning the title all the time, but no-one else will, and the game will suffer.

Taken from the Herald

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