Michael Beale might find that a quick pint in the Louden this week doesn’t invite the same kind of welcome it used to.
Ironically, it was before a game at Ibrox against Aberdeen as Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s coat was on the shoogliest of nails last year when Beale held court in the bar, willfully blind to the optics of his behaviour.
He will have had ample time now to appreciate just what kind of pressure van Bronckhorst was under as he loomed large on the horizon, ready and willing to take his spot.
If the Dutchman was one bad result away from the end, the same is true now of Beale. In truth, the writing was on the wall in the aftermath of the defeat to Celtic at Ibrox last month. The toxicity that was in the air then has never dissipated and was never likely to; Rangers fans who have spent decades watching the club reported that the fury that afternoon was like nothing they had witnessed before.
Gallingly for Rangers is that Celtic, weaker than they were last season and without a number of key players, have never been put under any kind of pressure. Brendan Rodgers’ side have not had to be in any great shape to get the defence of their league title off to a quick start.
At one point over the weekend it looked like the gap between the two would be just two points; by the time the dust had settled on Saturday evening the chasm had opened all the way to seven points. In October.
St Mirren, who have scored one more goal this season, are three points ahead of Rangers.
A summer of recruitment has only furthered the questions asked of Beale. Goalkeeper Jack Butland apart, not one of the crop of new arrivals could be given passmarks. Beale stressed this season that this was his squad and that he should be judged on the merits of the team he put together.
A case for the defence of Beale is impossible to mount. There is no option but for the Rangers board to act when something from the season can still be salvaged.
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