My Rangers night of ‘what ifs’ at Bayern and why it means Europa League glory can’t be sidelined – Jorg Albertz


It’s a difficult question. But it’s one Rangers fans might have to ask themselves this week.

What would they rather win? The Premiership title and the £40million Champions League group stage money that comes with it?

Or the Europa League trophy? Potentially, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

First of all, of course, you’d rather do both.

And as I’ve always said, a club like Rangers should want to be in EVERY competition for as long as they possibly can.

But if it’s the last week of the season, there’s a title decider and Europa League Final?

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I have to say that, as a player, I’d want to win a European trophy.

When I was at Rangers, I won titles and was part of the side who achieved nine-in-a-row.

After I’d left Ibrox, I only had two disappointments from my five years at the club.

One was not winning 10-in-a-row. We wanted to do that so much and it still rankles with me now.

The other was not being a success in Europe.

Those are the things that have always bothered me. We had the chance to do both – and didn’t achieve either.

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I can’t help thinking back to the night in the Olympic Stadium, Munich, against Bayern in November 1999.

We lost 1-0 to a penalty when we should have beaten them and gone through to the latter stages of the Champions League.

We deserved to win that night. Instead, we got beat and Michael Mols suffered his terrible injury after a challenge by Oliver Kahn.

We will never know how that journey would have ended for us if that night had gone differently. It’s pure speculation.

But it really annoys me that we didn’t achieve anything in Europe with that team.

We had international, top-class players all over the pitch.

We played Bayern Munich off the park that night. Some of Kahn’s saves were outstanding. Even now, it’s hard for me to talk about.



The loss to Bayern Munich still hurts Albertz

There’s no reason why we couldn’t have gone all the way to the Champions League Final that year. Why not? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

So, if you ask me that question today? Of course, you want to win domestically, you always have to try and win the league.

But to win a European title? That would be a massive boost to the football club.

It might never happen again in my lifetime.

So if it came down to it, as a professional footballer, I’d choose lifting the European trophy over the league title.

Now, Rangers are only in the last 16 of the Europa League so there’s a really long way to go in the tournament.

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But they have a winnable tie against Red Star Belgrade, with the first leg at Ibrox on Thursday night.

Gio’s team have already beaten the favourites, Borussia Dortmund.

And that second leg showed how special the fans can make a European night at Ibrox.

If they reach the last eight, there are still some tough teams in it – potentially the likes of Barcelona and Lyon.

Some of the clubs still there don’t have a chance of winning their domestic league so that’s all they’re aiming for.

Rangers are different. They have to be focused on both competitions until one is not possible any more.

They’re fighting on two fronts again this week and that’s the way it should be.

The league title and European progress are always linked now because of the UEFA coefficient system.

And I’d say to the Rangers players, how annoying will it be if – after building up Scotland’s points by reaching the Europa League last 16 for three years – they didn’t win the title and Celtic took the rewards?

Rangers have done more than any other club in the country recently to ensure that this season’s winners go straight into the Champions League group stage.

So for every supporter, it would be hugely disappointing if they’re not rewarded for all that hard work. It would be heartbreaking – but that’s the way it would be.

Gio and the boys can’t think about it that way. It would be a negative mindset.

They have to think positively and believe that, after building up those points, they can benefit themselves by winning the league.

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It’s still in their own hands. But the domestic results have to improve between now and the end of the season.

They beat Dortmund away on a fantastic night in Germany.



Rangers’ Joe Aribo looks dejected at full time after being held by Dundee United

But after that, when it came down to business at home, they dropped points in that 1-1 draw with Dundee United.

They produced another brilliant team performance against Borussia at Ibrox to draw and go through.

Celtic then handed them a chance to close the gap in the league – but they didn’t take it.

Another draw – this time with Motherwell.

That was so disappointing for me.

If they don’t win the title, they will look back on these results – and dropped points against the likes of Aberdeen and Ross County – and have to accept that they didn’t deserve the trophy.

I’ve been there as a player and it’s hard to explain how you can beat a team like Dortmund then fail to beat Motherwell.

No-one can explain it.

I’ve sat in that dressing-room myself after something similar and you look at each other, asking: ‘What happened there?’

Rangers can’t afford many more days like that now, with just nine games left in the Premiership and a huge European tie coming up.

But believe me – if you’re champions in May and holding up one, two or even three trophies – no-one will remember the games when you dropped points.




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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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