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The Hollow Men

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Strange Days have found us, right enough. The bizarre spectacle of English football and rugby tearing into themselves over the last few weeks has been a grimly fascinating sight. Why anyone would want to manage an English sports team at the highest level is beyond me - maybe I'm just not ambitious enough. But even the most driven of bosses must know in advance that, like politics, all careers end in failure. That, probably, they can live with. It's the weird, existential stuff which goes with the territory I, and surely they, struggle to understand.

Both football and rugby down south are awash with cash, far outstripping almost all - if not actually all - of their peers. And yet there's been a persistent rebellion, a rebellinho, quietly but insistently forecasting the end of the world is nigh, if not because these bodies will run out of cash, but because they have forgotten what they are for in the first place. What explanation is there, outside the psychiatrist's walls, for Jose Mourinho and his explosive narcissism? Or the howls of primal anger directed at the fuddy duddies of the RFU whenever England fail to win a trophy? The England rugby world looks into itself after their exit from the World Cup and finds that there's nothing there after all. England's Champion's League representatives, Manchester clubs (only just) excepted, run complex analyses to ascertain why they are consistently losing to 'weaker' sides from 'weaker' leagues and find an empty space where the beating heart should be: fans alienated or priced out, corporations grovelled to as their substitutes.

In truth I think the heart is the wrong organ to be examining here, it should be the head. Psycho-analysis may have kept every dodgy mittel-European with a beard in well paying business for the last 100 years, but if there's a reason for the actions of England's super rich super under-achievers it should surely be looked for in the psyche, not the heart. England's football teams have danced to the tune of the Treasurer since the advent of the game; anyone surprised that they still do may be equally distraught if I reveal Santa Claus isn't real. Freud, Adler and the rest would have a field day, though, with the rejection of the native which has been inherent in English football, and is now also to be found in rugby, which has marked both games since the first Scots professionals went south for a lucrative contract in the 1880's. The only change now is that better communications means players can be sourced from anywhere on the globe to anywhere on the globe, rather than Ayrshire players to, say, Lancashire. Why do they consider themselves inferior to foreigners? It's a strange concept which doesn't appear especially prevalent in other areas of English life, after all.

Freud and Adler...let's not forget their contemporary, Carl Jung. In Scotland, of course, he'd have been called Chic Young, an alarming thought if ever there was one. Never mind 'tell me about your mother,', it would have been 'tell me what school you went to'. But it just goes to show that for all the presumed moral superiority of sitting smugly watching elite English sport have a rotten time, the reminders are there that 'there but for the Grace of God go I', or that what goes around comes around, although Chic Young coming back around in another life as a world famous psycho-analyst can only be the stuff of nightmares for Buddhists around the globe, to say nothing of his patients. 'I'm cured, I promise! Just no more exclusives!'

The point I'm struggling toward here is that instead of having a chuckle at our southern neighbours I should maybe be having a look closer to home to see whether or not I, or Rangers, run the same risks of extinguishing my self in the search for success.

Being perennially skint, I am in no danger of losing my soul to filthy lucre. No, it's the starving artistic life for me, forced to take on menial job after menial job while failing to sell my elegantly constructed, witty epistles, of which this is so demonstrably not one. What about our team, though? Surely the events of the last few years mean we're hyper vigilant when it comes to the ethos of The Rangers, on our guard for anyone who would besmirch it? I'm not certain.

Mark Warburton is nine league games into his reign at Ibrox and people are moaning already. We don't win by 4 or 5 anymore. We only play for 20 minutes. We're open at the back. Other than this last, which was plain from the start and should come as no surprise to anyone who calls themselves a Rangers fan, these are fantastic gripes, in that they are the stuff of fantasy. If, come the end of the season, we're still at the same level then fair enough. But to be able to forget that Warburton's team was assembled in July - that's three a half months ago - will likely need tweaking and is anyway in its infancy in favour of moaning doesn't suggests a strong grip on reality. we've always had an element of fan for whom Rangers exist largely as a means to complain about everything - probably why I've always felt so at home at Ibrox - but even by their super-critical standards this is too much, way too soon.

As Jimmy from South Park said, come on. I mean, come on. If your level of tolerance is so low that only perfection, instantly and constantly repeated with no deviation or hesitation will do, you might end up on the shrink's couch yet. If your standards are so high that nothing short of a footballing Olympus on the sou'side, with only games played out by a Pantheon of Godlike Blue Shirts good enough, you're constantly going to be disappointed. Then it's constant self criticism and analysis and you end up eaten from within, a hollow shell with no strong foundation to rely on. Do builders not bother with keystones anymore? I bet they do, and so should Warburton.

Lay the foundations, improve the building year on year. We're in a good place and hopefully, getting better, Not everyone can say that in this strangest of sporting autumns.

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