If last night’s First Leg of the Play-Off Final proved anything, it is that Rangers are a Championship side and no more than that.
I have been saying to people that the euphoria over victories against Queen of the South and Hibs is baffling, given that Hibs were only surmounted because of their woeful inability to convert several stonewall chances.
Motherwell proved to be an entirely different obstacle and once again exposed the inadequacies of this Rangers team.
The frailties that have been a feature of the Light Blues’ performances over the past few seasons were on show last night – and resulted in a very difficult deficit for manager Stuart McCall and his shattered players to overcome on Sunday.
Poor defending and careless distribution, along with suicidal positioning, allowed Motherwell to score three goals before a late McGregor reply gave Rangers a little hope going into Sunday’s second leg. The premature promotion celebrations were suddenly put on hold and the nightmare scenario of another season in nowheresville crept like a dark shadow over a hushed Ibrox.
Sunday is do-or-die for Rangers and for the troubled regime which only took power two months ago. The prospect of selling season tickets for another season in the Championship to an already heavily-depleted support is as attractive a proposal as being given the job of selling de-icer in Dubai.
The pressures on Rangers don’t go away even if Stuart McCall pulls a very big rabbit out of the hat at Fir Park. Arguably, it is a much more difficult job for the King consortium as they will have to invest heavily in a squad that can compete.in the Premiership – and by compete I mean survive. The level of investment required to mount a serious title challenge is way beyond Rangers at this time, hence the seven year plan often referred to.
Motherwell may be the second bottom team in the Premier division of Scottish football. But they have so far proved that there is a difference in quality between the divisions and that Rangers will have to take some very big steps to enter and stay in the top flight. Give them their due, they beat Rangers in a professional,clinical fashion and thoroughly deserved to take the lead back to Fir Park.
Arguments rage over who is to blame for the debacle that has been Rangers’ poor performances, performances which have seen the side come third in Scotland’s second tier. Some fans still blame Ally McCoist while others say that Stuart McCall has had enough time to improve things far more than he has.
One thing is certain. If the Rangers players do manage to pull it off on Sunday it will be a monumental feat. But if those players are still very much the team that Rangers rely on in the Premiership, then it will be a monumental disaster.
Forget Helicopter Sunday. Sunday’s match will be Do Or Die Day.
Given what is at stake, that may be literally for The Rangers.