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Evan Grant on Ranger management

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There's some interesting sniping on the DMN Rangers blog today...

Tim MacMahon says Tom Hicks is alienating the Ranger fan base by saying that 1) he's more concerned with making money off his teams than winning, 2) Liverpool fans are more passionate about their team than Rangers and Stars fans are, and 3) that the team hasn't decided yet whether they are going to be buyers or sellers.

#1 is a stupid thing for Hicks to say. #2 seems, to me, to be stating the obvious...I think I'm one of the more passionate fans out there, and I can't hold a candle to English soccer fans. And #3 seems fairly innocuous, at least at this point, since I don't think that Hicks announcing that the team is giving up on the season and will be holding a fire sale does anything positive.

Evan Grant takes MacMahon to task, suggesting that media members seeking to spin whatever Hicks and management does in the most negative possible manner contributes more to fan alienation than what Hicks is actually saying.

MacMahon then suggests that Grant is just presenting the company line for Ranger management, which results in this response from Grant, which I think is as good an explanation as you'll read as to why it doesn't make sense to jump on the "fire everyone" bandwagon:

I knew Tim would turn me into staff Rangers' apologist.

Again, I'm not so sure that Hicks went out of his way to whine about Rangers and Stars fans. When he bought the Liverpool club, I was interviewed about a half-dozen times by the BBC and various English papers. They all asked me in many different ways shapes and forms about Hicks' knowledge of soccer and the atmosphere. They have sent reporters across the pond to sit with him at games and talk with him at length. His ownership and exposure to soccer is still a novelty there. I feel fairly confident that somebody may have asked him a question like: "Have you ever seen something like this at one of your other team's games?" Innocent enough and the answer, in that context, would be innocent enough, too.

There have been times when Hicks has put his foot in his mouth and I've been there to record it and document it. I have no doubt he can do that. I'm just saying: I'm not so sure that this is one of those cases. I think it's more of a case of fan frustration and us fanning those fires.

About alienating fans, I know alienation. I lived through alienation. What the Rangers are doing now is not alienation. Alienation was the arrogance and distance of Rangers management in the early part of this decade when there was no accountability for mistakes being made. There was hatred over ripping up the The Ballpark in Arlington name. There was complaining that there was no buzz about this team. There was carping over the lack of players available to sign autographs and that the team wasn't visible in the community. Well, the Rangers are addressing all of that. Some of it has been executed in better ways than others. But I get a real sense the Rangers are trying to win back fans with their actions, maybe not yet their payroll, but their actions.

And, yes, we do know that the best marketing plan is winning. Genius stuff: Win and the fans will come. Why didn't somebody else ever think of that? But this club has tried spending like Pacman Jones in a strip joint and it didn't work (and people complained), it's tried stripping down the club (and people complained), it's tried to get on some kind of path to build for the future and present a competitive team for the present (and people complained). I understand Ranger fans' frustation and I feel for them. It's been a hard existence to root for this club. But I've been around this organization on an everyday basis for 11 years now and what I see is a club trying to stick to a plan. The real test is if they can stick to it in the face of public apathy. At least the public is doing it's part. It is both apothetic and apoplectic (and I don't blame them for that). Now it's up to the Rangers to stick to their plan, no matter how tough things may get for them in the increasing number of public forums dedicated to venting.

This organization is not anywhere near fixed. The owner, GM, manager, everybody has made some mistakes. They are closer to being on the same page and working with a discernible and understandable plan than since the late 1990s.