There has not been a much more polarizing topic amongst any circle of Rangers supporters this year than that of the return of Barry Ferguson. After giving his all for the club in the UEFA Cup run and domestic runs of last season, the Captain did the right thing and opted for surgery to repair an injury prior to the 2008-2009 campaign.
Such a loss to the midfield was something that many fans felt we could very much do without. This came on the heels of a year where supporters aimed their most poignant questions at the strength of the middle of the park. How would we cope without Ferguson?
Rangers, Murray and Walter stepped up to the plate with the purchase of Pedro Mendes and Steven Davis to bolster the one remaining midfield stalwart and potential Rangers great, Kevin Thomson. The presence of these three men was enough to calm the fears of the masses. As the season began in earnest after the Kaunas debacle, results and team performances showed much improvement in the engine room as games progressed.
Many individuals became so enamored with the seeming wealth of midfield options that when Ferguson was announced as nearing recovery, the floodgates opened as to whether he deserved a place in the lineup at all anymore. Subsequent questions targeted the notion of whether he was still good enough or whether he had the desire to play for the jersey anymore. RangersMedia was awash with opposing sides of Ferguson detractors and supporters continually debating the relevant merits of his return — the likes of which had not been seen since, well, the return of Kenny Miller.
Sometimes I wish people would just relax, breathe and think before getting so worked up.
For over a decade, Barry Ferguson has been someone who has eased the hearts and minds of many a Bear with his solid contributions towards the success of the club. Surely a short spell with Blackburn, as so loathed by some, isn’t quite enough to diminish everything he has done for our team?
Every successful franchise or team on earth has had an individual that has served as a leader. The Chicago Bulls had Scotty Pippen. The New York Yankees had Yogi Berra. The Edmonton Oilers has Mark Messier. Yet, those three clubs, while possibly somewhat unknown to many Scottish sporting fans, are perhaps better associated with the names Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, and Wayne Gretzky. A list like this could be compiled and read on and on for any sport, for any team in any country.
The situation with Rangers is that Barry Ferguson is, and has been for many years, the leader of the team. He loves what the club is and what the club stands for. Luckily for us, he is also one of the most prominent and talented players to come out of Scotland in many years. I think that is perhaps what blurs the vision of many a fan when they look at him.
I am not here to argue that Ferguson, as a player, is any better or worse than he once was, or could be in the future. I am merely of the belief that for individuals to believe that he is not someone we need at Rangers in laughable. He possesses skills that many would love to have, and that is a fact. More importantly, he is the one person in that locker room that people can look up to and look to for advice.
We should be happy that we are lucky enough to have a solid group of individuals able to walk out onto the pitch at Ibrox and battle for us, the greatest fans in the world. We should also be secure in knowing we have an individual in the squad with experience and talent to help mould the futures of those that come after him. I for one can only hope that players like Davis and Thomson exhibit the abilities of Ferguson both on and off the pitch after he hangs ’em up. You should too.