FORMER Rangers captain Barry Ferguson has lifted the lid on how a bizarre clash he had with ex-Ibrox manager Paul Le Guen led to the Frenchman getting in a pickle over Monster Munch crisps.
Ferguson and Le Guen had a fraught relationship during their time together at Ibrox in the 2006-07 season and matters came to a head over New Year 2007 when the Scotland international was stripped of the captaincy and dropped after a spat between the pair after a 2-1 defeat to Inverness.
Ferguson was restored to the side when Le Guen resigned days later - after just 198 days in charge of Rangers- and the skipper played a major part in the club’s progress to the 2008 Uefa Cup final under Walter Smith before moving south in 2009, first to Birmingham and then his current club Blackpool.
Le Guen - now coach of the Oman national side - subsequently accused Ferguson of undermining his authority, but writing in his column in the Daily Record, the midfielder has revealed that he was angered by the former Lyon coach’s “lack of passion” and let his emotions boil over.
Perhaps the final straw for Ferguson was an impasse over a packet of crisps. In an attempt to improve his squad’s diet, Le Guen placed Monster Munch on the banned list, something Ferguson finds laughable.
“Yes, okay I might have eaten the occasional pack of Monster Munch which might have been against his nutritional rules, but come on,” Ferguson wrote in todays’s column. “Listen, I am all for players looking after themselves and eating well. But no-one is going to tell me a packet of pickled onion now and again is going to take years off your career. It’s nonsense.
“Is that what people mean when they say I undermined him? Honestly, I don’t know where all that comes from and it makes me angry just thinking about.”
Ferguson added: “A lot has been made about my relationship with the Frenchman. I know there are Rangers fans out there who still think I undermined him or stabbed him in the back. So I’d like to use this column to set a few things straight.
“First, you have to understand the way I was brought up as a kid: at Rangers nothing less than three points is ever acceptable. The most important lesson they taught us was that you’ll never cut it as a Rangers player if you pull that shirt on and think it’s OK to lose. That was driven into my head every day of my young life until it became a state of mind and a way of life.
“So yes, I’ll hold my hands up right now. To this day I am guilty of wanting to win every game I play.
“I know I run around with my wee face all screwed up, moaning at everyone and everything but it’s only because I care so much about winning. To me, that’s just the Rangers way – if you don’t care if you lose or draw then you’ve no business being there. And that’s was the root of my problem under Le Guen.
“The truth is, the longer it went on the more I was struggling to recognise the Rangers I had grown up with. Under Le Guen, it was becoming acceptable to drop points on a Saturday. In fact, it was becoming the norm. And I admit I just couldn’t get my head around it. Now, people have their own opinions about what went on between us. But I was there, I know what went on inside that dressing room and I’d challenge him to deny or contradict anything I’m about to tell you. Week after week I walked off the pitch to be told: “It’s OK, let’s stick together and just move on to the next game.”
“That’s alright after one bad game. Or maybe if a team is going through a wee sticky patch. But not every week. After every embarrassing result. It was a gradual build-up, over weeks and months. His shrug-of -the-shoulders attitude was eating away at me inside because this was the club I loved. I was the Rangers captain and these results were killing me. It was humiliating.
“And the worst bit of it was, I could see it rubbing off on others until there were players sitting in that dressing room who didn’t seem to care if we won, lost or drew. The standards I had grown up with were disappearing. I held my tongue as best I could but it was only a matter of time until I eventually snapped. That day came on 27 December 2006, at Inverness. We had been winning 1-0 but ended up losing 2-1. I think we slipped to fourth or fifth in the table. I mean, it was getting ridiculous.
“And what did I hear when I walked into that dressing room? ‘It’s OK. We must stick together’. That was it, I just couldn’t listen to it any more. So I said: ‘Aye, we must stick together. But it’s not f****** OK that we’ve lost another three points. What part of that don’t you get? This is Glasgow Rangers you are working for’.
“I admit I lost the head. I was just so angered by the lack of passion. I couldn’t look round any more at people who didn’t care if Rangers won or lost. Yes, maybe I was guilty of letting my emotions boil over. Maybe I lost my cool in that dressing room on that day. But I just couldn’t take any more of it. But that was it. It wasn’t as if I asked the guy outside for a square-go. I put my hand on my heart and say, I never caused that man one problem. I never once knocked down his door.
“As things turned out, it was Le Guen’s Rangers career that was over. Very soon after that, Walter Smith was back in charge. And overnight Rangers got their standards back.”