HE WILL instil discipline, promised chairman David Murray when unveiling new manager Paul Le Guen in June. But his inability to do that is a central reason why the Frenchman's reign at Ibrox only lasted 198 days, with Le Guen leaving Ibrox by mutual consent yesterday afternoon, having tried and failed to unite a dressing-room.
WILLIAM WALTON (1899-1920)
BILL STRUTH (1920-1954)
SCOT SYMON (1954-1967)
DAVIE WHITE (1967-1969)
WILLIE WADDELL (1969-1972)
JOCK WALLACE (1972-1978 and 1983-1986)
JOHN GREIG (1978-1983)
GRAEME SOUNESS (1986-1991)
WALTER SMITH (1991-1998)
DICK ADVOCAAT (1998-2001)
ALEX McLEISH (2001-2006)
PAUL LE GUEN (2006-2007)His reign becomes the shortest of any Ibrox manager, with Le Guen only having signed a three-year contract in June.
The strict discipline he wanted to bring to Ibrox and Murray Park was regarded as unpalatable by some, and his authority was weakened by a wretched signing record. When even his own captain rebelled, Le Guen once again employed one of his favoured English sayings: "I am the boss." At shortly before 3pm yesterday, this was no longer the case. Le Gaffer was Le Goner, his methods having been rejected by a club which can't decide what it wants: Scottish dig or foreign flair.
It is the third time Le Guen has walked away from a job, having made similarly premature exits from Lyon and Rennes.
It proved impossible for Le Guen to insist he knew what he was doing as those signings he made part of his manifesto were revealed to be mediocre at best. Le Guen resorted to selecting teams that relied most heavily on players that had hastened predecessor Alex McLeish's departure, with the last XI picked by Le Guen for Tuesday's match with Motherwell boasting only three of his own signings.
This was three more than many Rangers fans might have wished, particularly when one, Jeremy Clement, had been favoured over Barry Ferguson, the deposed skipper whose heels would have clicked at the statement issued by Rangers yesterday afternoon. "Having met with Paul it was clear that in the interests of the club and all concerned we agreed jointly to him stepping down as manager," said Murray. Le Guen thanked "all the people who helped me and my team" during his time in Scotland. Alas, his signings could not be included in this group.
Those he relied on to cement his reputation in Scotland proved not up to the job, while some already present in the dressing-room on his arrival were not to be trusted either. He might have thought he'd dispensed with the trouble-makers when first Fernando Ricksen was sent home from pre-season tour, and then on-loan Manchester United player Phil Bardsley was told to return to Old Trafford a month early. But by the end they were coming at him from all corners. Ferguson was next to be punished after a prolonged campaign of negativity against the management, but just 24 hours later principal striker Kris Boyd was seen cocking a snoot at Le Guen with his "No 6" gesture in support of Ferguson after his goal on Tuesday against Motherwell.
The Rangers fans were perplexed by those the brightest young manager in Europe had chosen to help sustain this reputation. More seriously, the dressing room balked at this invasion of minor acts, with the travails of Libor Sionko, Sasa Papac and Filip Sebo inspiring the most urgent piece of advice given to Le Guen when his 'revolution' first began to totter: sign no more players from Austria Vienna.
All three had arrived from the Austrian side, and were further linked together by an unfortunate loss of form as soon as they arrived. Karl Svensson, a Swedish internationalist, has proved a 600,000 misfit, while Jeremy Clement, signed for just over 1million from Lyon, has provided only fleeting glimpses of promise. Lionel Letizi, given every chance to be considered No 1 goalkeeper, is now No 3.
The failure of these players to impose themselves is made more galling in view of the time Le Guen had been allowed to prepare himself for Scottish football. Although only unveiled in June the Frenchman had known of his next posting almost six months in advance. He had 24 weeks in which to do his prep, but still persevered with a patently unsuitable 4-3-2-1 system in the opening weeks of the campaign, with Dundee United the first side to place under doubt the expectation that Le Guen would replicate his success in France when in Scotland.
The Tannadice side established a two-goal lead at Ibrox in August, and Rangers only clawed their way back to 2-2 courtesy of a fortunate own goal in the last minutes. A draw the next week at Dunfermline failed to inspire.
It helped that Celtic had not broken into a sprint either, with the Parkhead side losing to Hearts in their second league match and drawing at Inverness. This offered Le Guen some hope, although the bid to over-haul the leaders was left badly shaken when Celtic easily defeated a poor Rangers side 2-0 at the end of September. Adding insult to injury was Le Guen's reaction to the result. Some fans didn't know what to consider more wounding - the loss, or his subsequent praise for their rivals.
"We tried our best against Celtic, but our best was not enough," Le Guen said. "[But] we showed we are not so far behind the best team in Scotland."
It was not the rallying call the Ibrox faithful had hoped for. But then their own team was intent on sending them mixed messages. After this limp display came a win over Molde that ensured qualification for the group stages of the UEFA Cup.
Le Guen's short stay at Rangers saw him contribute something momentous when his side earned a 3-2 win against the then high-flying Serie A side Livorno. It was the first time a Scottish club side had won in Italy on competitive duty. "We were ill - not dead," remarked Le Guen.
But even in this time of relief for Le Guen there remained questions about his management-style. The win in Tuscany had seen Le Guen persist with Letizi just days after the Frenchman's blunder had gifted a winning goal to Inverness at Ibrox - the away side's first ever win there. Although Letizi performed competently in Italy, the decision to reinstate him after Allan McGregor's fine performances when called to deputise for the injured keeper made it appear he favoured his foreign signings, and with little reason.
Even Le Guen could not resist McGregor's claim to be No 1 choice when he more than capably filled-in after Letizi again fell to injury. But the damage had been done. The initial insistence that Letizi was first-choice had created a difficult situation in the dressing room, and led to a growing resentment within the Scottish clan, a group led by Ferguson.
The off-pitch unease began to be reflected even more startlingly in the results, with Rangers posting the most wretched of them all just days after a 2-1 defeat at Dundee United, a team with only one previous victory to their name all season. But at least the Tannadice side were in the same league, and at home. Three days later a new nadir arrived, when First Division St Johnstone came to Ibrox and posted a comfortable 2-0 win in the CIS Cup. But while Le Guen clawed back from this precipice, he was never able to establish a foot-hold at Rangers. Each time a recovery seemed likely another bleak result would bring Le Guen's neck closer to what the Sun newspaper dubbed Le Chopometer.
Falkirk's first league win over Rangers since the days when Andy Roxburgh and Alex Ferguson led their attack brought a four-match unbeaten run to a shuddering halt in December.
Cue another haunted-looking Le Guen presenting himself to reporters in the Falkirk Stadium press room. Even the bitter cold that afternoon could not account for the Frenchman's pinched features after he'd seen the 38-year-old Russell Latapy run the show for Falkirk. Little did we know then but Le Guen had entered the last month of his reign, one that again displayed some evidence of progress but which was effectively ended by a hopeless performance against St Mirren at Ibrox on Saturday.
Bereft of ideas, and with 1.8m signing Sebo left on the bench throughout, Rangers made it 20 points dropped against bottom-six sides this season.
Something needed to be done, and was. Believing not unreasonably that the most critical hour had arrived, Le Guen made the most dramatic decision of his short, eventful tenure. Hangovers were forgotten as news filtered through on New Year's Day that Ferguson, the club's most talented player, had been dropped from the squad, and stripped of his captaincy.
The revelation represented the most fascinating contretemps anyone could remember in Scottish football's recent history. In one corner we had Ferguson, the handsomely gifted but often huffy star player. And in the other stood Le Guen, a Champions League quarter- finalist on two occasions with Lyon and credited with having one of the finest coaching minds in Europe. The sharpness of his brain meant he could not miss where this desperate act left him at Rangers. "Precarious" was the word he used to describe his position in an impressively handled series of interviews after the 1-0 win at Motherwell looked to have earned him more time.
In the event the victory bought Le Guen only a further 48 hours of anguish at the helm of a club that proved ungovernable for a sophisticated Frenchman.
IBROX STATEMENT IN FULL
RANGERS Football Club announces by mutual agreement with manager Paul Le Guen that he will relinquish his position as manager of the first team with immediate effect.
Chairman Sir David Murray commented: "Having met with Paul it was clear that in the interests of the club and all concerned we agreed jointly to him stepping down as manager. We are all clearly disappointed with our current circumstances and will now focus on securing a suitable replacement. I would like to wish Paul and his management team well in the future."
Paul Le Guen stated: "I am disappointed to leave the club, but I think it is the best solution for all concerned. I would like to thank all the people who helped me and my team during my spell in Scotland. In particular I would like to thank the directors who at all times gave me their total support."
PAUL LE GUEN FACTFILE
1964: Born 1 March in Pencran, a village in Brittany.
1983: Joins local club Brest in the first division
1984: Makes his debut as a midfielder.
1989: Moves to Nantes
1991: Joins Paris St Germain.
1993: Earns first cap for France. Makes 17 appearances in total. Wins French Cup with PSG.
1995: Wins the League Cup and the French Cup with PSG.
1996: Wins Cup-Winners' Cup. Ignored by France coach Aime Jacquet for European championship. Passes coaching exams.
1997: Plays in Cup-Winners' Cup final as PSG lost 1-0 to Barcelona.
1998: Wins the League Cup for the second time and the French Cup for a third time with PSG. Retires as a player and begins coaching Rennes.
2000: Rennes finish fifth in Ligue 1.
2002: Joins champions Lyon, taking over from Jacques Santini.
2003-2005: Leads Lyon to three successive Ligue 1 titles. The club also reach the Champions League quarter-finals in 2004 and 2005.
2005. 9 May: Announces he will not renew his contract with Lyon which ends on 30 June and is linked with a move to join countryman Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.
2006: February: confirms discussions with Rangers to replace Alex McLeish, who has announced he will step down in the summer.
11 March: Agrees three-year deal to become new Rangers manager at start of 2006-2007 season.
8 November: After poor start to the season, Rangers' morale hits rock bottom after 2-0 defeat to St Johnstone in CIS Cup.
27 December: Rangers crash 2-1 to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in Premierleague. Their second league defeat to Inverness in the season leaves Rangers third in the SPL, 17 points behind leaders Celtic and two points behind Aberdeen.
2007: 1 January: Axes Barry Ferguson from squad for match against Motherwell and strips midfielder of captaincy.
2 January: Reveals he dropped Ferguson because he felt he was being undermined by the player. "He tries to have too much influence. Even if I don't agree with him on the role of the captain, and I don't think he is as important as he thinks," said Le Guen, who accepted the decision may cost him his job.
4 January: Leaves Rangers by "mutual consent".
GAMES TO FORGET
5 August, 2006: Rangers 2, Dundee Utd 2
Ibrox debut for Le Guen, but Rangers only salvage draw thanks to a Steven Robb own goal.
17 September, 2006: Hibernian 2, Rangers 1
Filip Sebo scored his first goal for Rangers but Chris Killen struck twice to clinch victory for Hibs.
23 September, 2006: Celtic 2 Rangers 0
First Old Firm derby of season and a painful defeat as ex-Rangers striker Kenny Miller scores his first goal for Celtic
14 October, 2006: Rangers 0 Inverness 1
Decision to drop keeper Allan McGregor in favour of Lionel Letizi backfires as his blunder gifts Inverness a win at Ibrox
5 November, 2006: Dundee Utd 2, Rangers 1
Stunning defeat to then struggling United, as late goals from Garry Kenneth and Lee Mair give Craig Levein perfect start
8 November, 2006: Rangers 0, St Johnstone 2
Cup misery and Le Guen's worst defeat. The CIS Insurance Cup exit to First Division Saints forced Ibrox chairman David Murray to publicly back manager after just five months in the job.
12 December: Falkirk 1, Rangers 0
Mini-revival came to an end thanks to a Mark Twaddle strike
27 December, 2006: Inverness 2, Rangers 1
A last-gasp winner from John Rankin leaves Rangers 17 points adrift of Celtic in the SPL.
30 December, 2006: Rangers 1 St Mirren 1
Rangers had to come from behind to claim a point against their lowly opponents at Ibrox.
1 January, 2007
Captain Ferguson is dropped from the Rangers squad on eve of match at Motherwell, with Gavin Rae appointed to lead the team in his place.
2 January, 2007
Rangers win 1-0 at Motherwell thanks to Kris Boyd's penalty, but supporters sing Ferguson's name. Le Guen confirms a rift with Ferguson and says: "I took a decision. After that decision, it is not up to me to say if I will be here during the following months. If I go, I go. But I want to do my job with respect."
4 January, 2007
Rangers announce that Le Guen has left the club after seven months in charge, making him the shortest-serving manager in Ibrox history.