“Just keep winning.”
Protest banners and chants were aired against the proposed Sydney Super Cup participation during last week’s win over St Johnstone, and Giovanni van Bronckhorst was even on the receiving end with some fans audibly jeering his decision to replace Alfredo Morelos with Kemar Roofe against Aberdeen.
The growing unrest at a crucial juncture of the season, and in a tightly contested title race, is a far cry from the united front witnessed a year ago to the day when Rangers celebrated title number 55 and regained champions’ status after a decade-long wait.
For a 56th, they will have to follow Hateley’s advice on the pitch, but the former striker says continuing the feel-good factor is just part of repairing the unrest brought to the surface by the planned derby Down Under.
“The fans are obviously disgruntled over certain situations and things that have happened recently, probably the way it has been released. That would annoy football fans because it is their football club.
“There is disengagement because obviously the fans haven’t known about it. You have to have a line of communication into your support or they will turn on the board,” he said.
“I have been involved at every level of the game from player to coach to manager and you have to engage with everybody within the football club. It’s not rocket science. You have to understand people.”
Hateley, a face of the club in his ambassador role until 18 months ago, used to meet the fans regularly. As such, he has an understanding of the support-base and a recognition of their role at Ibrox. It is a bond forged more than a quarter of a century ago back to his days in the nine-in-a-row 1990s side, a number 10 scoring 115 goals.
“It is a different era now and I think the players are detached from the fans. They are more in isolation.
"When we played three of us would go to a supporters’ club here, three of us would go there, most Saturday nights, even just for half an hour. You do get an understanding and a relationship with that element of the football club.
"You have got a 150-year-old football club and the biggest partner ever, you can call them a sponsor or a partner, is the supporters. They are why the club is 150 years old. Generation after generation have invested into Rangers Football Club.
"I’m a football fan. The players I played with, the Ian Fergusons, Durrants, McCoists, were all football fans. Fans could relate to the players. It is completely understandable that there’s not that sort of bond.”
The players can re-establish the re-connection though, or go a long way towards it if, as Hateley says, they “just keep winning”. That hasn’t come easy for Rangers recently who have either laboured to three points, or impressed without full reward.
“I take points over performance every day of the week. You either get relegated or you win the league,” he added. “If you are playing rotten, get the points. That is better than playing well and not getting them. It’s simple, straightforward. At this stage in the season, you dig deep.”
Mark Hateley was promoting exclusively live Premier Sports coverage of Dundee v Rangers this Sunday from 3.30pm. Premier Sports is available on Sky, Virgin TV and the Premier Player from £12.99 per month, and on Amazon Prime as an add-on subscription.