AT what stage during Paul Le Guen’s brief and ill-fated spell as manager of Rangers did it become apparent that the enigmatic Frenchman was going to fail in Scotland?

Was it when his new-look team drew three of their opening five Premiership games in the 2006/07 season? Was it when his side lost 2-0 to Celtic at Parkhead in September to fall seven points behind their city rivals? Or was it when he stripped Barry Ferguson of the captaincy in January and told the midfielder he would never play for him again?

How about before a ball had even been kicked in a competitive match in July after a summer of underwhelming recruitment?

Some of the players Le Guen brought in, like Jeremy Clement and Sasa Papac, did well in Glasgow. But the rest? The less said about Lionel Letizi, Lee Martin, Libor Sionko and Filip Sebo the better.

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Le Guen, who was headhunted by then owner Sir David Murray after winning three consecutive Ligue 1 titles with Lyon in his homeland, was a strange fish who never looked entirely at ease in his new surroundings. But constructing a squad with bargain basement buys, unknown overseas imports, young loanees and free transfers was always going to end in disaster.

His predecessor Alex McLeish could have warned him. His reign had unravelled after he had been forced, due to financial issues, to sign non-entities like Olivier Bernard, Jose-Karl Pierre-Fanfan, Julien Rodriguez and Filippo Maniero the previous year. It was little surprise when he departed after a wretched, trophyless campaign.

Even having cash to splash in the transfer market is no guarantee of success in Scottish football when extensive surgery is required. Pedro Caixinha was given funds to acquire his own men before the 2017/18 season got underway after the footballers he had inherited from Mark Warburton, not his own glaring ineptitude, were blamed for the alarming end to the previous term.

The Herald: Ryan Jack and Alfredo Morelos were both, no doubt about it, brilliant. But Bruno Alves, Fabio Cardoso, Dalcio, Eduardo Herrera and Carlos Pena all failed to justify the outlay which it took to secure their services or pay their weekly wages. Caixinha was tapped on the shoulder in October.

Did the summer rebuild which Michael Beale oversaw last summer work? If, and it is a very big if given how they have been performing of late, injury-ravaged Rangers beat Celtic in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup final at Hampden this afternoon and complete a double it could be argued that it did despite their cinch Premiership failure.

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Jack Butland, Abdallah Sima, Dujon Sterling and possibly Cyriel Dessers have proved their worth. That said, the fact that another major clearout is now required highlights that it failed to cure all of the Govan outfit’s ills.

One prominent blogger this week demanded Borna Barisic, Jose Cifuentes, Ben Davies, Dessers, Kieran Dowell, Connor Goldson, Ianis Hagi, Ryan Jack, Sam Lammers, Tom Lawrence, John Lundstram, Jon McLaughlin, James Tavernier, Kemar Roofe and Ridvan Yilmaz be shown the exit door. Are they going to be playing five-a-side football at Goals in Shawlands next season? Is the Tennent’s Soccer Sixes making a comeback?

Philippe Clement is a good coach and an experienced manager and showed he has a bit of an eye for a player during the January window, his first, by landing Oscar Cortes, Mohamed Diomande and Fabio Silva. But the difficulties which McLeish, Le Guen, Caixinha and Beale all encountered indicate that even he may struggle to hastily piece together a side which is capable of dominating domestically.

How is the business which he carries out going to be subsidised anyway? Rangers have spent nearly £20m acquiring no fewer than 12 new faces this season and they have not qualified automatically for the Champions League group stages.

Perhaps their best hope lies in Celtic botching their recruitment. Brendan Rodgers is going to have to unearth a top class goalkeeper to fill the very large void which Joe Hart will leave when he retires and maybe find a new playmaker as well if Matt O’Riley is sold for an eight figure sum.

The Herald: Will Cameron Carter-Vickers, Reo Hatate and Kyogo Furuhashi all remain in the East End? They have plied their trade in this country for three seasons now. It will be a surprise if no bids are received in the coming weeks. There are, too, those who are clearly not of a sufficient standard to offload.

Whoever takes over from scouting guru Mark Lawwell will need to, unlike 12 months ago, ensure there are far more hits than misses. Directors will have to part with some of their £70m reserves to ensure the progress which has been made is built upon at home and abroad. Project players are not the answer.  

Rangers were superb in the Premiership in the 2020/21 season. They went undefeated and deservedly finished 25 points clear of their nearest challengers as a result. Still, their cause was aided considerably by Albian Ajeti, Vasilis Barkas, Shane Duffy and Diego Laxalt all bombing on the other side of the River Clyde. They need the Scottish champions to implode once again.