Colin Stein admits he was a bit of “a hothead” during his goal-strewn Rangers career in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He did, though, possess cool enough reasoning then to understand that challenging the authority of an Ibrox manager was a punishable offence.
Stein, 70, now a Rangers matchday host, believes there was an inevitability about the suspensions handed to Kenny Miller and Lee Wallace after they rounded on Graeme Murty over his tactics in the club’s humiliating 4-0 defeat by Celtic in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final.
Miller isn’t a first offender on that front; his Rangers career now surely over a matter of six months on from when he was exiled from the senior side by Murty’s predecessor Pedro Caixinha over his insubordination.
Stein believes the failure of the Rangers playing staff to respect their manager might also be related to the route Murty took into the post and the fact his grip on it has always been tenuous despite being given a six-month contract in December to elevate him beyond the status of interim boss.
“I know in my time at Rangers if there was an argument with Willie Waddell, Davie White or Jock Wallace, I think the gaffer would always win it,” Stein said.
“The boss has to get the respect of the players. I think it is in every work environment that you have arguments with your boss. But in every environment the boss always wins.
“It happened before with Kenny Miller and Pedro Caixinha. I don’t know what kind of guy Kenny Miller is in the dressing room.
“He [Murty] is in a funny situation. He is an interim manager and he has got to prove himself. He is in a difficult position. I don’t know the guy personally but there is a big difference from being the manager of the under-20s to a team that is playing for their living every week. It is a big step up.
“He has been thrown in at the deep end, especially at Ibrox. They have lost seven games at Ibrox and if they had won all of them they would be challenging for the league. And we probably wouldn’t be talking about this today.”
Stein didn’t disagree that the fact motivation seemed entirely missing as Rangers were given the runaround at Hampden on Sunday was perhaps the most hurtful aspect of their defeat by their fiercest foes. Blame for that he shares between players and the man preparing them.
“It comes from both but the manager doesn’t play on the park, that is the players,” he said. “He has to get into them what to do but it is up to them when they are on the park. If you can’t be motivated for a semi-final, or any game against Celtic, then there is something wrong.”
There appears to be no end in sight to Rangers’ domination by Celtic, who are now two wins away from a double-treble underpinned by a seventh straight title. Stein gives a quick-fire response to what is needed at the Ibrox club.
“We need better players,” he said bluntly. “There are still a lot of loan players and I don’t know about getting a player on loan. If he plays well, surely he will go back to the club he is on loan from? I don’t know if that is the way forward or not. It was the passion and attitude on Sunday, I don’t think the supporters deserve that.
“They have got to get a manager that can do the job, it is as simple as that, and that can tell players this or tell players that. Picking a winning team is what it is all about,” added Stein.
Rangers look like they will be unable to drag themselves out of the doldrums any time soon, however Stein is convinced that the club faithful will continue to back the team and hope against hope.
“There are 45,000 turning up every game at Ibrox and they have got a great away support as well so I think that answers any question about the fans’ patience,” he said. “I think they will stick by them, as usual. But they have got a lot to be upset about.”
l Colin Stein will be appearing with Willie Johnston at the latest Legends of Football event, an Evening With Barcelona Bears, at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Thursday 25 October 2018. For more information and tickets. Tel: 0141-353-800 or visit www.ticketsglasgow.com