Rangers nine-in-a-row legend Gordon Durie admits he fears for the future of the club’s homegrown youngsters under manager Mark Warburton.
The former striker, who worked as Rangers U20 manager and as a first-team coach until Warburton brought in his own coaching staff in July 2015, is disappointed that players given débuts in recent seasons by previous managers haven’t been given a chance by Warburton.
He said: “Andy Murdoch, Tom Walsh and Ryan Hardie all had a little taste of it but do the young kids get a chance?
“That’s my only doubt about Warburton. He farms out he young guys in and brings in players from England instead.”
Durie, known as Jukebox, has been out of the game since leaving Ibrox in 2015 after, in his own words, ‘falling out love’ with football in the wake of his Gers exit.
“After leaving Ibrox I was really disappointed and I was scunnered and fell out of love with football a little bit,” he said. “I never fell out of love with Rangers but I did with football. It was my dream job at Rangers but at the wrong time.
“I took the U20s which was great and I loved that but it wasn’t my own choice to go up and help Kenny (McDowall) with the first-team when Coisty left which was something I didn’t want to do. At the end of it I wanted to go back down to the U20s but it didn’t happen.
“It’s been over a year now but I’m hoping to get back into football in some form.”
Durie was in Stornoway this week as the latest star to tred the blue carpet, rolled out by the Lewis and Harris Rangers Supporters Club, recognised by the Gers as the world’s biggest.
“When you see a supporters club like this so far from Glasgow it shows what Rangers means,” insisted Durie. “And clubs like this are the lifeblood of the football club. Especially during the hard times these clubs kept Rangers going.”
After kicking off his senior career with East Fife, Durie’s goals took him to Hibs, Chelsea and Tottenham before finally returning home across the border with Rangers – a move he says which was YEARS in the offing.
“I grew up being a Rangers supporter and all through my career there were rumours I was going to sign for the club,” he explained. “From my days with East Fife they were in, then when I was with Hibs there were reports Rangers were keen on me.
“When I was at Chelsea I was a little homesick and the talk of a Rangers move was ongoing. I thought it was going to happen but unfortunately it fell through and Tottenham came in for me on the same day the Rangers thing fell through and I signed for Spurs.
“I had a couple of years there before I finally made the move to Rangers which was something I’d waited my whole career for.”
For boyhood Rangers fan Durie he pinpoints his first appearance in Light Blue as his proudest moment but he acknowledges he will be most fondly remembered for the 1996 Scottish Cup final win over Hearts.
The ‘96 cup final is a day which has gone down in supporters folklore after a turbo charged Durie and Laudrup scored all five of Rangers goals in a 5-1 win between them. Durie bagged the match ball with a cup final hat-trick on a day he admits he will never forget.
“To pick out special moments I’d have to say my début against Partick Thistle,” recalls Jukebox fondly..” Just to put on that jersey of the club I supported as a boy for the first time was really special and of course the cup final.
“Most people remember the cup final and it was more than a bit special. Hearts were one of my lucky teams which I always seemed to score a goal or two against. Myself and Laudrup had one of those days. We had a partnership which just clicked.
“The first-half was quite tight I remember and it was only 1-0 but we came out in the second-half and blew them away.”
The recent past has been tumultuous for the Ibrox club which teetered dangerously on the edge of oblivion, staring into the abyss before beginning their return to Scottish football’s top-flight from the bottom tier.
For Durie, a dyed in the wool Gers fan, it was difficult to watch and equally difficult to watch his great friend Ally McCoist work tirelessly and under impossible conditions.
“It was a mess and so sad to see,” reflected Durie with a sigh.
“The things that happened were so sad. I have to say that without Ally McCoist, and God bless him, Sandy Jardine, I genuinely don’t think Rangers would be here now. It was that bad. Nobody expected it to happen and it was such a shock and I hope we never go back to those days as it was a disaster for everyone.
“Coisty is one of those bubbly guys but he was under so much stress yet he never showed it to the staff or to the players. He continued to come in every day smiling and trying to keep everyone together and alive..
“Ally couldn’t manage the club properly. He had so many other things to deal with and I’d love to see him with a chance to run the club properly with a proper budget and without having to worry if the club would survive and players worried about their contracts. He wasn’t allowed to get on with managing the team and it was disappointing for him but without him Rangers might not be here.”
Rangers’ return to the top-flight hasn’t been without incident but it was always going to take time to challenge a Celtic side who have a considerably stronger squad than Rangers at present.
This season’s biggest talking point has arguably been the exclusion and suspension, and subsequent release, of summer marquee signing Joey Barton, bringing to an end a lengthy saga for Rangers.
“As football player Joey Barton was a great signing but he had the baggage,” said Durie.
“It’s always a gamble. A lot of players sign for Rangers but can’t hack it. I was disappointed in his performances after he had made the big claims how he was going to be the best player in Scotland but he didn’t produce.
“It’s done now, we’ve all learned our lesson and we have to move on.”
He continued: “It has been a bit up and down this year, some of the new players have worked, others haven’t but it’s been a bit of a transitional period. It is a big jump from the Championship to the Premiership and it will take a few years to close the gap on Celtic – but do Rangers have a few years?
“They need to do it quickly and the supporters demand it..”
In addition to a stellar club career, Durie also picked up 43 full Scotland caps with an international career which took him to four consecutive tournaments, including Scotland’s last in 1998.
“Playing for Scotland was magic. I was lucky enough to go to two World Cup’s and two European Championships,” said Durie.
“I wish I could put my finger on what has gone wrong and what the problem is. We didn’t have superstar players in the 90’s either and we were just a good, hard working side, a club mentality.
“Nobody can say Wales, Northern Ireland or Iceland have better squads than us. Wales have a superstar in Gareth Bale but outside that they aren’t better than us.”