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WALTER SMITH has a decision to make and he needs to make it quickly.

It might already be too late but if Rangers are to have any chance of winning the SPL he has to act ruthlessly and he has to act now.

Frankly, the manager's choice should be an easy one because the evidence is damning. It isn't the up-and-down form of Steven Whittaker or David Weir's lack of mobility Rangers' fans should be fretting about. And forget the tiresome debate about Kris Boyd.

These players are not the real problem and with all the intensity of aprison spotlight during a jail break, Rangers need to turn the focus of attention on one player, and one player only.

Barry Ferguson. The biggest under-achiever in the Rangers squad has to be benched.

The captain has brought nothing to the side since his return from a spell south of the Border and he is now more of a hindrance than a benefit to the team.

As a skipper Rangers would be better with Captain Jack Sparrow. At least he's crafty enough not to lose the pieces of silver no matter the odds against him.

This will sound like blasphemy to some because Ferguson is the Ibrox club's captain and everybody knows he'd be a season ticket-holder if he hadn't made it as a pro.

He is a Rangers man through and through but he's not a leader of Rangers men and this club is heading towards the world's end.

He looks much better than he actually is with his puffed-out chest and his bristling indignation when things don't go Rangers' or his way.

He shouts a lot and often points like a cop on rush-hour traffic duty.

Sadly, he is Rangers' all-action zero and it is time for people inside Ibrox not just to admit the truth but to act on it.

Rangers have gone backwards since Ferguson returned and although he cannot be held responsible - other than taking £25,000 a week in wages - for the club's financial meltdown you would have thought he, of all the players on the books, would have been setting the correct example in difficult times.

After all, he was rescued from the south to give Rangers direction and impetus. He was seen as the one man who could drag the side towards league titles but he's been part of only one championship triumph.

He rejoined in the January of season 2004-05 and AlexMcLeish's Rangers went on to win the title.

That was the last one as Celtic threaten now to make it four in a row and you have to ask what Ferguson has actually achieved in that time.

Apart from make life tougher than it might have been for Paul Le Guen.

This isn't to suggest Ferguson was responsible for the Frenchman's Scottish nightmare but he could have helped more by making sure all players were behind the manager.

Instead, splits developed within the camp and Le Guen realised his gamble in taking over from McLeish had failed.

When the going is rough and faith is dwindling a club needs an onfield leader to work on the pysche of the squad pulling the factions together and making sure they're united in the cause of winning. But with Ferguson this club lost under Le Guen and they continue to lose while the same man continues to wear the armband in the centre of midfield.

Without his captain Le Guen had no chance and now, perversely, Smith has little chance with him.

Unfortunate coincidence?

His apologists - and he isn't short of them - will say yes but Ferguson and Rangers' failure in the championship are linked because he has not been able to drive his team through tough games and he hasn't dominated opponents never mind matches.

But since we mentioned coincidence, how about this: Why is it Rangers were a better, more skilful and free-flowing team when he was injured?

And why is it that players like Kirk Broadfoot, Steven Whittaker, and even Pedro Mendes looked better when the captain wasn't around?

Could it be he has a stifling effect on others or that one or two retreat into their shells when Ferguson is on the pitch moaning at everyone?

He is supposed to be the midfield general and it's because of that myth Smith has been playing Steve Davis on the right of midfield when he is at his best in the centre. He wants to play there and now is the time for Smith to shuffle him inside to his real position.

There's nothing to lose and everything to gain because Smith has kept faith with Ferguson and allowed him ample opportunity to prove he is the man. It's clear now he isn't and because Rangers are running out of time and matches they must do something radical.

There is no time left for Ferguson to prove himself worthy of a start in the centre of midfield and the team would lose nothing if Smith left him out. Those players who appear to shrink in stature when he's about might again become emboldened in his absence and it isn't as though Smith is without alternatives to play on the right.

Nacho Novo is fit again and if nothing else Rangers would benefit from his running, passion, and fierce desire to be a winner. Also, you just know the little Spaniard still believes it's a privilege to wear the jersey and his is exactly the attitude Rangers want right now.

There's also Steven Naismith, who could play wide right, and that would free up Novo to go straight through the middle with Kenny Miller, although he looks as though he has lost confidence, Kyle Lafferty or Boyd.

And because drastic times call for drastic measures why not let John Fleck play his preferred position just off the strikers, although that would leave a gap to be filled on the left.

Accommodating the right players for the correct times is always difficult but by sticking with what is regarded more or less as the norm Rangers are losing the title to Celtic. Bold changes could be Smith's only salvation.

It's easy to sit on the outside as a neutral observer but it is obvious Rangers need a shake-up and binning Ferguson just might be the start of a revival.

If you weigh up his contribution since coming back to Ibrox nothing much would be lost. But just look at what might be gained. It might even be his own reinvention.

http://www.<No links to this website>/football/spl/...86908-21204544/

Might be an article but I still agree.

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Ferguson is worthy of criticism but Mendes and Davis have been equally bad (or even worse of late).

The shouting at other players thing is a red herring. I'd be more annoyed if this didn't happen and if players can't accept criticism on the park, then they shouldn't be playing for Rangers.

The whole team needs a shake up. Let's start by dropping Mendes or Ferguson (preferably the latter) and playing Edu or Davis in central midfield. Then let's play proper wide players - Beasley, Aaron or Novo.

Finally let's have two players up front that can link the play and score goals. Lafferty and Naismith sound good to me.

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I'm with Frankie, but I do think it's more than a coincedence that Mendes' dip in form has taken place just as Ferguson's came back.

I felt the Portugese was awesome alongside Thomson as he was allowed to play his natural game. Not blaming Ferguson for it, but some players are just not meant to play together. Lampard and Gerrard are one pair, sadly it looks like Fergie and Pedro are another pair.

I'd sack Broadfoot for the season and give Whitty the RB slot to begin with. That would give the lad confidence and hopefully allow him to express himself more.

Neither Dailly or McCulloch would play for the club again, same goes for Charlie Adam.

I'd bench Ferguson for the forseeable future and play Mendes along with Edu. We need a tackler/athlete to complement Mendes, and Davis isn't it.

Plus, with 5 goals and 15 assists so far this year, Davis is playing just fine on the right.

You know my feelings on Boyd, while the impotent Miller would warm the bench. Aaron or Beasley would take the left wing slot while Danny Wilson would be the backup centre half, with Fleck rotating with Naismith alongside Lafferty up front.

That would bring a freshness, a vibrance, speed AND creativity to the side, something we're sorely lacking.

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Yeah, the biggest problem this season has been the loss of Kevin Thomson who provided industry, aggression and balance in midfield. This allowed the Mendes' and the Davis' of the world to get forward and dictate play in dangerous areas.

Once we lost him, we gamble in many games with Mendes and Ferguson in midfield. Both are too similar - powderpuff, lack pace and don't get forward or track runners defensively. That means Davis almost always sits too deep as well and doesn't affect games as he should. Usually we have enough quality to get through though but struggle in more difficult matches.

Smith knows this. That's why against any reasonable opposition he plays another holding player - be it McCulloch or even Dailly FFS. All because he obviously doesn't trust Edu.

Fair enough you might say. The lad is young, inexperienced and still adapting to our game. Well, as has been seen again this season, we can ill-afford the luxury of bedding in new recruits. And not at £2.7million.

The Thomson injury was a cruel blow which the manager cannot be blamed for. However, the lack of a suitable plan B is one he can be questioned over. We're similarly weak at the back and also lack strength up front.

That's why we don't even play the likes of Naismith, Velicka, Edu, Beasley and McCulloch in their proper roles as it doesn't help our main problem of being a team devoid of confidence, morale, motivation, mobility and physical strength/fitness.

Millions of pounds wasted with little chance of recouping the loss and even less chance of money being available to fix the team's problems.

I've no idea how we fix it. Unfortunately, neither does Smith is seems.

But, a reasonable start would be to play players in their proper positions and drop people when they are not playing well.

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It does beg the question of 'When will Edu get the chance to learn?' though?

I am willing to bet one hundred English pounds that if you said to Edu just now that he was going to play for the rest of the season, he'd start off next year (regardless if we won the title or not) double the player he currently is just now.

I can't see how he can do any worse than Ferguson. And again, I'll stress that it's not Fergie alone, it's the partnership between him and Mendes that isn't working.

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I'm with Frankie, but I do think it's more than a coincedence that Mendes' dip in form has taken place just as Ferguson's came back.

I felt the Portugese was awesome alongside Thomson as he was allowed to play his natural game. Not blaming Ferguson for it, but some players are just not meant to play together. Lampard and Gerrard are one pair, sadly it looks like Fergie and Pedro are another pair.

I'd sack Broadfoot for the season and give Whitty the RB slot to begin with. That would give the lad confidence and hopefully allow him to express himself more.

Neither Dailly or McCulloch would play for the club again, same goes for Charlie Adam.

I'd bench Ferguson for the forseeable future and play Mendes along with Edu. We need a tackler/athlete to complement Mendes, and Davis isn't it.

Plus, with 5 goals and 15 assists so far this year, Davis is playing just fine on the right.

You know my feelings on Boyd, while the impotent Miller would warm the bench. Aaron or Beasley would take the left wing slot while Danny Wilson would be the backup centre half, with Fleck rotating with Naismith alongside Lafferty up front.

That would bring a freshness, a vibrance, speed AND creativity to the side, something we're sorely lacking.

some very good ideas in there. when u see what we could have its very frustrating

i would agree for now to give fergie a rest, but not to hold aa grudge if mendes still isnt doing it givve him his chance again but he ll have to earn it

i think at the moment i would prob go with miller and lafferty to start up front and give fleck roles both up top and on the left just to blood him, as he is still so young.

but apart from that agree completly spot on :clap:

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Ferguson should be dropped, but it's not going to happen. If he's fit, and like last season even if he's not, he'll play 90 minutes every game.

:anguish:

The whole does smack, yet again, of Ferguson being his own manager.

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very good point from papaguy about the mendes and fergie not fitting

there would be no need for a DM if we had the ryt balance in a 4-4-2 midfield having Edu as the deeper lying player allowing mendes or fergie to go and roam would allow for a lot more to be created

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if it is the case that fergie will not be dropped and both ferguson and mendes continue to be poor i would take the option of having mendes bombed to the bench and edu to come back in so we have some balance. although on current form its not what should happen but it is better then nothing

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if it is the case that fergie will not be dropped and both ferguson and mendes continue to be poor i would take the option of having mendes bombed to the bench and edu to come back in so we have some balance. although on current form its not what should happen but it is better then nothing

I don't see why we should have to drop the superior player just to bring a bit of balance back to the team.

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I think most of us have been saying what the article is saying for a fair few months now. If this is the media only realising it now, I have a feeling the management will only realise it when it's too little too late...if they even do realise their error.

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Davis Mendes Thomson worked brilliantly together

Barry is a Ger through and through but thats not enough when the form takes the exit route...sad but thats how it is so if he really loves Rangers he should withdraw and let the next generation take over

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if it is the case that fergie will not be dropped and both ferguson and mendes continue to be poor i would take the option of having mendes bombed to the bench and edu to come back in so we have some balance. although on current form its not what should happen but it is better then nothing

I don't see why we should have to drop the superior player just to bring a bit of balance back to the team.

And it's already been shown that Mendes looked better alongside Thommo than Ferguson ever did.

Also, Mendes hasn't had 3 career-shortening injuries in the past 7 years.

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aye id rather see fergie dropped ryt now. . . what i was saying was its better then nothing

i think talent wise ferguson is a much much bbetter player then mendes he just needs to sit out for a while train hard think about it and then when mendes isnt playing well or get injured take his chance . . . im sure he has still got the ability you can see it he just needs to recover form and confidence so for the team and him personally i think he needs to be dropped

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aye id rather see fergie dropped ryt now. . . what i was saying was its better then nothing

i think talent wise ferguson is a much much bbetter player then mendes he just needs to sit out for a while train hard think about it and then when mendes isnt playing well or get injured take his chance . . . im sure he has still got the ability you can see it he just needs to recover form and confidence so for the team and him personally i think he needs to be dropped

Maybe six years ago Ferguson was better than Mendes, but now he isn't.

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I know a lot of people don't like him, but in this instance Traynor is spot on.

Ferguson's body is packing in and as Badger just touched on he doesn't have the engine or the legs to play at this level anymore.

Traynor's an idiot, but even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day.

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I actually think he has been getting better in recent weeks but his level of performance is still not where it should be. I actually think his distribution has been well below tyhe level i would expect from Fergie, especially the final ball into the box.

Although I really don't understand why Mendes or Davis get a far easier ride than Ferguson, they have both been far too inconsistent this season and both have only had one decent performance against the filth in four games and have gone missing in games where we have dropped points, like the sheep in Aberdeen

All three are capable and on form should be the best three midfielders in the country, smith must work out how to get the three of them playing or must look at other options

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The biggest loss this year has been Kevin Thomson. Thommo and mendes must start for us next season. Fergie can go anytime in my eyes. I can count the number of good games he's had since he's came back on 1 hand

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Far be it for me to agree with Traynor but he says what a lot of us are thinking, Ferguson just isn't cutting anymore and needs to be dropped for the good of the team. Kevin Thomson has been a huge loss for us too.

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The shouting at other players thing is a red herring. I'd be more annoyed if this didn't happen and if players can't accept criticism on the park, then they shouldn't be playing for Rangers.

Agree to a point, Frankie, the players are men and should be able to take criticism, but it should at least be constructive and it certainly has to be a two way street there. Ferguson delights in having a snarling go at his teammates when things go astray for them, but he seems to be above the return criticism when things go wrong on his end (and they very often do).

Imho, I think relentless harping on the park would have a more negative than positive effect on teammates over time.

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The shouting at other players thing is a red herring. I'd be more annoyed if this didn't happen and if players can't accept criticism on the park, then they shouldn't be playing for Rangers.

Agree to a point, Frankie, the players are men and should be able to take criticism, but it should at least be constructive and it certainly has to be a two way street there. Ferguson delights in having a snarling go at his teammates when things go astray for them, but he seems to be above the return criticism when things go wrong on his end (and they very often do).

Imho, I think relentless harping on the park would have a more negative than positive effect on teammates over time.

And in saying that, I don't think I've ever seen him berate his best mates.

Not once have I seen McCulloch, Weir or Boyd get a tongue-lashing from the captain, even when they've made absolutely horrific mistakes.

I wouldn't respect my captain for that alone.

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