Rangers revival was never going to happen overnight, says David Weir
There is more than a hint of defensiveness from David Weir at the suggestion that he must still agonise over his part in Rangers’ 2016 Scottish Cup final defeat by Hibernian.
It might appear hardly topical, but Rangers’ Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Aberdeen this week makes what happened in that decider almost three years ago a moment that, in some ways, continues to haunt the Govan club.
Steven Gerrard’s side are currently a distant second in the title race to eight-in-a-row chasing Celtic, which means the Ibrox club are on the verge of their longest run without a trophy.
Weir, assistant to Mark Warburton in 2016, is culpable in that unwanted record. Rangers previously failed to win any major silverware between 1903 and 1911.
Since the Ibrox club’s plunge into liquidation in 2012, the closest they have come to trophy success was that afternoon in May 2016, when Warburton and Weir’s side held a 2-1 lead against Hibs going into the final ten minutes of the final, only to lose 3-2.
Weir refuses to wear a hairshirt over what happened to the club that day in their only national cup final since 2011.
“You look back and obviously wish you’d won it. But that’s football,” said Weir. “We backed ourselves on the day to play the way we had done all season.
“It’s about strengths and weaknesses and in that last ten minutes our weaknesses were highlighted. There was no recovery from that. In cup finals it’s about doing it on the day so of course there was disappointment.”
The former Scotland defender, who now has a role at Brighton, doesn’t believe that the eight-season barren run should be ”thrown” at Rangers in believing they weren’t “in a position to be winning major trophies, having been down the leagues and so on.”
That’s not quite the case, however. In going under as a consequence of their own financial malfeasance, they were forced to start again in the fourth tier. Yet, they still maintained the second highest wage bill in the Scottish game.
It should have brought them better returns than one final but cup ties were lost to Forfar, Raith Rovers, Falkirk, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Motherwell, St Johnstone and Dundee United (three times).
All teams with a fraction of their budget.
“Rangers have a history of winning trophies,” Weir added. “It’s a long time since they won but there were times when Celtic went a long while as well, so it can be cyclical.
“It was never going to happen overnight to get back to that level. We beat Celtic and got to a final [in 2016] but the next step is to win one. “It’s not a straight line but I think everyone would agree there has been progress at Rangers in recent years.”
But until it takes the tangible form of a major trophy, that progress will always be open to question.