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Rangers must have a better transfer strategy to close the gap with Celtic

Celtic have more money than us. Isn't that even more reason to scrutinise our spending?

Rangers v Celtic - Betfred Cup Semi Final Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Of course, it was 1-0, rather than 5-1, a narrow last-minute defeat rather than a horsing. But everybody who watched the game will know that there was little difference between the two performances. Celtic hammered us last time because Philippe Senderos was sent off and we chased the game. They didn't hammer us this time because our defenders kept their heads and we played a far more negative game. The gulf in quality in both games, however, was plain to see and about identical.

One of the most curious reactions to the defeat has been the resigned "well, Celtic have far more money than us, so what do you expect?" response. It's lazy, and silly, and generally used as a simple way to absolve the manager of all blame. If it's a legitimate view, then we might as well shut down Twitter and indeed this site, as clearly there's no benefit in discussing team selection, tactics or signings. No, raw finances decide absolutely every facet of the game, and we'll never win until we change that. So let's all talk about Stewart Robertson and our marketing strategies instead. Much more fun.

The real question is this: if Celtic have significantly more money than us, shouldn't that be even more reason to be very careful about where the cash we do have is spent? And even more reason to criticise its misuse? Might the gap not be far smaller had we invested the extraordinary sums wasted on Joey barton, Niko Kranjcar, Joe Garner, Philippe Senderos and Michael O'Halloran on players more suited to our situation/who were actually good at football?

If the gap is about finances, we need to be very, very careful about how every penny is spent, and search far and wide for bargains. This has been the least forgivable and probably most damaging mistake of Mark Warburton's reign so far. Every single time we've pushed the boat out, from O'Halloran to Barton to Garner, it's been a waste of money. This has all been mitigated by some incredible bargains, true, but if we need to go to the next level, surely we need to be able to trust our manager to make big signings. The fact that our imagination does not extend further than Warburton's former players and Frank McParland's pals is a significant and related issue.

We have come a long way in a very short space of time, but the flaws of our management team now being laid bare are not ones about which we can simply utter inane platitudes about learning from our mistakes. It's something that absolutely has to be gotten right, and it's somewhere where we need to be ruthlessly effective and imaginative since we're starting from a position of weakness. Mark Warburton turning into Harry Redknapp around May simply hasn't benefited the club - everything else has been great or has improved, but this might be the test that defines the future of his reign, and this Rangers team with it.

TL;DR - you can't plead poverty when you've spent three million on hopeless strikers alone, and a near doubling of the wage budget still sees us starting with what is mostly last season's team. Sort it out.