• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Stand-in stands out with save

Uncertainty surrounds Rangers.

Steve Simonsen pulls off a brilliant reflex save to stop Forfar from equalising on Monday. Picture: SNS
Steve Simonsen pulls off a brilliant reflex save to stop Forfar from equalising on Monday. Picture: SNS

Every aspect of the business is under review, the possibility of a pay cut for the playing staff was raised last week; even aspects of the team's preparation is under scrutiny.

Stances are being taken, and the sense is of a club that is on the verge of a period of volatility. For the players, it is becoming a season of contradictions, since the team is 20 points clear in SPFL League 1 and comfortably on course to climb up into the Championship, but off-field issues are diverting attention.

Graham Wallace, the chief executive, has said administration is not looming. Cuts need to be made, though, and that means a reduction in the wage budget. That can be achieved either through a communal wage reduction, or players leaving - both of which present challenges for Wallace - but the first-team wage bill is only 30% of turnover and there are costs that can be reduced elsewhere at the same time.

When presented with the notion of a 15% wage reduction, the players responded by asking whether the executives would be making the same sacrifice.

With two weeks of the transfer window remaining, and everything at Ibrox being assessed, anxiety would be expected to gather, not least because Rangers have suffered financial collapse in the recent past. The players, though, are adamant that their focus remains on events on the pitch, while the other issues besetting the club are kept to the outside of the squad.

"The team is solely focused on getting results on the pitch and we showed that [in last Monday night's 2-0 win] at Forfar," said Steve Simonsen, the goalkeeper. "What goes on in the boardroom, outside of it, or anywhere else in the club has nothing to do with us.

"We are paid to go out there and perform and to get this football club back to where it belongs; Monday night was another step towards that. The spirit is fantastic.

"I can only comment on what happens on the football pitch. We all hear and read what goes on elsewhere but the lads, management team and myself are all focused on winning matches for this football club. From the players' point of view, there isn't really much to say."

Supporters are moving into factions. Depending on their point of view, decisions that are taken are either ruinous for Rangers or wholly justified. The presence of Simonsen, for instance, divides opinion, since the coaching staff believe that Scott Gallacher, the young goalkeeper, has the potential to develop into a first-team player.

Gallacher was sent on loan during the summer to gain experience and play regularly, so Simonsen was signed as back-up to Cammy Bell, the established No1. Gallacher has now returned from his loan spell at Airdrieonians, though, leaving Rangers with three first-team goalkeepers at a time when finances are being streamlined.

For the manager, it is a question of building a squad to cope with the demands of a full season, and he would rightly point out that if moves are sanctioned then they are justifiable. Simonsen made his debut for Rangers in the 2-0 win over Forfar, and delivered a brilliant reflex save to prevent the home side from equalising. Bell was missing because his partner gave birth to a baby girl on the day of the game, so it may be Simonsen's only start, despite generally impressing. "The manager wants an experienced goalkeeper and on occasions like Forfar he is able to put me out because it is a hard and difficult place to come," Simonsen said. "The manager has to build the best squad he can to take them back to where they want to be and I am thankful he sees me as part of that.

"I am under no illusions that Cammy Bell is the No.1 at this football club. What I am doing is showing that I am more than capable of coming into the side when I am needed. That has helped Cammy along as well with his game because when you have good, healthy competition it helps everyone to strive and produce better performances.

"And in terms of that, Cammy has done very well. I knew on Monday morning that there was a chance [he would play], because Cammy had informed the management and the boys that his partner had gone into labour. He had been up all night, by the side of his partner, and it wouldn't have been right asking him to travel all the way up to Forfar.

"I have been in that position before and I was always preparing to play. It was a fantastic experience."

Simonsen would like to play at Ibrox at some point during his spell at the club. His contract runs to the end of the season and it is conceivable that Gallacher could join another club on loan for the rest of this season.

At this stage in Simonsen's career, his focus is on doing his job and appreciating his surroundings. "I am approaching 35 years old now," he said. "I have been in the game a long time and I have also played at some fantastic football clubs. I have also had spells where I haven't been in the side and then I have.

"It is all about professionalism, keeping yourself fit and doing the right things in training every day. You have to prepare yourself for your chance."

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

207420