IT DOESN’T happen often but the best deal Rangers may strike this winter could be the one to get a player OUT of the club rather than bring a new one in!
I say that because the sooner the Joey Barton distraction can be resolved, the better – for all concerned.
And if costs a couple of hundred thousand pounds now to terminate his contract then surely it is worth it.
I believed Joey was a good signing when his arrival was announced in the summer.
He had been the top man with English Championship winners Burnley, which is a very high standard. He was also “good box office”, which is important in a year when the club really needed the fans to rally round.
New players are always a risk, though, and in this case it didn’t work out.
Joey seemed to feel that was down to the players around him and, possibly, the style of play favoured by manager Mark Warburton.
To be fair, he didn’t have the set-up he enjoyed at Turf Moor, where he had two extremely energetic young team-mates beside him who were more than willing to do the hard yards for him.
I think also in his mind he had pictured the romantic idea of Rangers going up to the Premiership after years of exile in the lower leagues and immediately dominating.
That was unrealistic.
We all know about Celtic’s superior budget, that is a given. They brought in £20 million from the Champions League alone.
But it is also true there are several other teams who are a cut above the sides Rangers faced in the Championship last season.
Aberdeen are the obvious example. Prior to their defeat by Hamilton they had won six games on the spin (in all competitions) which is great form, at whatever standard you are playing at.
Hearts are very strong and we got a reminder on Wednesday, too, of just how canny an operator Tommy Wright is when he sent out his
St Johnstone side to frustrate Rangers at Ibrox.
It worked a treat, they left with a point to the sounds of home supporters muttering once again about the lack of flexibility in Rangers tactics.
Mark Warburton raised a few eyebrows with his statement that Plan B is just doing Plan A better!
I think it has stayed in the minds of more than a few fans as an indication of a mind which is too set in its ways.
That can spread to the players –keeper Wes Foderingham looked genuinely put out when Saints strikers shut down his close passing options on Wednesday.
I still believe they can finish second-top this season, which, when we consider they have already reached the semi-finals of the League Cup, would be good going in what is a transitional year.
But the distraction of Barton has to be dealt with.
If they can follow Aberdeen’s lead and bring in a gem like James Maddison on loan in the January window, then so much the better.