Jump to content



Barry Ferguson - Me and Le Guen and Pickled Onion Monster Munch

Recommended Posts

LET me start with a confession: I like Monster Munch. In fact, I’m particularly fond of pickled onion.


There you go, I just wanted to get that out in the open because something happened at Forfar at the weekend that made my mind drift back to one of the most controversial periods of my career. And, yes, I realise there were a few.


But there was nothing quite like the time when Paul Le Guen told me I was finished at Rangers and people tried to make it out it was over a bag of crisps.


For those who don’t remember, sit back and let me explain.


We’ll start last Sunday at Station Park where Rangers struggled to a 1-0 win and got slaughtered for their display.


I didn’t see it but by all accounts it was dire and a throwback to last season when Ally McCoist had a hard time of things in the Third Division.


But there was one big difference between Sunday and the worst days of the previous campaign when so many points were dropped at places such as Peterhead, Stirling and Berwick.


The difference was Rangers won.


Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying for a second there’s any excuse for a team like Rangers to be struggling to win at Forfar. There isn’t.




What I am saying, however, is that even though they had a bad day at least they left the place with three points.


That wasn’t always the case last season and, to me, it’s a sign some of the club’s old standards are on the way back.


Standards that I was raised on. Standards that Rangers were built on. Standards that I thought might disappear for good during Le Guen’s time in charge seven years ago.


A lot has been made about my relationship with the Frenchman. I know there are Rangers fans out there who still think I undermined him or stabbed him in the back. So I’d like to use this column to set a few things straight.


First, you have to understand the way I was brought up as a kid working under John Brown and John McGregor. They kept things simple: At Rangers nothing less than three points is ever acceptable.


Yes, they wanted us to play well and encouraged us to express ourselves but the most important lesson they taught us was that you’ll never cut it as a Rangers player if you pull that shirt on and think it’s OK to lose.


That was driven into my head every day of my young life until it became a state of mind and a way of life.


So yes, I’ll hold my hands up right now. To this day I am guilty of wanting to win every game I play.


I know I run around with my wee face all screwed up, moaning at everyone and everything but it’s only because I care so much about winning.


To me, that’s just the Rangers way – if you don’t care if you lose or draw then you’ve no business being there.


And that’s was the root of my problem under Le Guen.


The truth is, the longer it went on the more I was struggling to recognise the Rangers I had grown up with. Under Le Guen, it was becoming acceptable to drop points on a Saturday. In fact, it was becoming the norm. And I admit I just couldn’t get my head around it.


Now, people have their own opinions about what went on between us.


But I was there, I know what went on inside that dressing room and I’d challenge him to deny or contradict anything I’m about to tell you.


Week after week I walked off the pitch to be told: “It’s OK, let’s stick together and just move on to the next game.”


That’s alright after one bad game. Or maybe if a team is going through a wee sticky patch. But not EVERY week. After EVERY embarrassing result.


It was a gradual build-up, over weeks and months. His shrug-of -the-shoulders attitude was eating away at me inside because this was the club I loved. I was the Rangers captain and these results were killing me. It was humiliating.


And the worst bit of it was, I could see it rubbing off on others until there were players sitting in that dressing room who didn’t seem to care if we won, lost or drew. The standards I had grown up with were disappearing.


I held my tongue as best I could but it was only a matter of time until I eventually snapped. That day came on December 27, 2006, at Inverness. We had been winning 1-0 but ended up losing 2-1. I think we slipped to fourth or fifth in the table. I mean, it was getting ridiculous.


And what did I hear when I walked into that dressing room? “It’s OK. We must stick together.”


That was it, I just couldn’t listen to it any more.


So I said: “Aye, we must stick together. But it’s not f****** OK that we’ve lost another three points. What part of that don’t you get? This is Glasgow Rangers you are working for.”


I admit I lost the head. I was just so angered by the lack of passion. I couldn’t look round any more at people who didn’t care if Rangers won or lost.


Yes, maybe I was guilty of letting my emotions boil over. Maybe I lost my cool in that dressing room on that day. But I just couldn’t take any more of it.


But that was it. It wasn’t as if I asked the guy outside for a square-go. I put my hand on my heart and say, I never caused that man one problem. I never once knocked down his door.


Yes, OK I might have eaten the occasional packet of Monster Munch which might have been against his nutritional rules but come on? Listen, I’m all for players looking after themselves and eating well. But no one is going to tell me a packet of pickled onion now and again is going to take years off your career. It’s nonsense.


Is that what people mean when they say I undermined him? Honestly, I don’t know where all that comes from and it makes me angry just thinking about it.


It was all I read in the papers or heard on the phone-ins. I swear none of it was true. I was guilty of one thing – being passionate about my club and going a bit daft at Inverness.


But I had no idea the price he wanted me to pay for it until I walked into Murray Park a few days later to prepare for an away game at Motherwell.


His assistant, Yves Colleu, shouted for me and I went into the manager’s office and Le Guen began to speak to me like I was some sort of alien. I wasn’t even allowed to sit down. He just told me I’d never play for the club again and to leave the building.


I was in a daze. I got my bag and walked to my car without saying anything to the other lads. I got a few hundred yards down the road before I pulled in and realised what had just happened. I was shattered.


As things turned out, it was Le Guen’s Rangers career that was over.


Very soon after that, Walter Smith was back in charge. And overnight Rangers got their standards back.


That’s why the result at Forfar pleased me the other day. And put me right in the mood for a packet of my favourite crisps.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Le Guen didn't seem to get it, and Ferguson didn't help. Trying to keep team spirit together during a bad run is the manager's job, not his: he may have expected Le Guen to go nuts but its really not up to players to decide their manager's style.


How anyone thinks either of them has anything much to be proud of during that period baffles me, a bit.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Won't change a thing. There are still a vast number of our fans married to the idea of PLG rather than the reality.


I was in that camp for a long time. The what-might-have-been remains tantalising.

However, over the years I've seen PLG's career fail to ignite like we all assumed it would and have come to realise that on balance SDM made the right decision. I viewed it through the prism of bad Scottish players v modern French coach, but that was clearly over simplified.


He doesn't actually write the column, it's ghosted, so criticism of his prose is misplaced, he just supplies the topic and viewpoint. I'm enjoying Ferguson's column which surprises me, he's more thoughtful and insightful than I thought he'd be. Future Rangers manager anyone....?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Barry is deliberately missing the point .

"So yes, I’ll hold my hands up right now. To this day I am guilty of wanting to win every game I play. I know I run around with my wee face all screwed up, moaning at everyone and everything but it’s only because I care so much about winning." ....I seem to remember at the time that PLG's main beef was that Barry was undermining him on the park by doing just what he says above .

You'd bet that wee Barry was running about telling everyone else their job and feck what PLG had told them before the game . Was there not quite a bit of discussion about the role of captain in different football cultures ? In the end getting rid of PLG was definately right but for Barry to say it was just about motivation is a probably a wee bit fly . Top man though . Wee Barry Loyal .

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.