Michael Stewart and Rangers supporters have a strained relationship, to say the least.

It's nothing new to state that the BBC pundit isn't a favourite of those of an Ibrox persuasion who have dubbed the former Hearts midfielder as 'the failed trialist'.

But why have Rangers fans adopted the less-than-complimentary moniker for the former Scotland international? 

Well, to detail the reason for the difficult relationship it's best to start right at the beginning of Stewart's footballing journey.

Stewart - who counts Hibs and Nottingham Forest in his previous clubs - started playing for Rangers as a youngster while still at high school.

The pundit then had the option to sign terms at Rangers or make the switch to Manchester United as a kid. In 1998, Stewart penned a professional deal at Old Trafford - where he would make eight appearances for the Premier League giants.

During his time at United, Stewart was sent on loan to Forest and then for a spell at Hearts.

However, there was a trial stint at Rangers for Stewart after being informed he had no future at Old Trafford by Sir Alex Ferguson.

In July 2004, Stewart joined the Rangers squad for a trial period under Alex McLeish in pre-season.

READ MORE: Alfredo Morelos makes MAJOR fitness change to ease Santos nightmare

At 23, Stewart was aiming to get his career back on track by winning a permanent deal at Ibrox.

The midfielder admitted his "sheer delight" over the opportunity to win a dream contract at Rangers as he joined the side with a view to heading on a pre-season trip to Austria where McLeish would make a decision on whether or not he should be signed.

Speaking to the Rangers News magazine at the time, Stewart said: When a move to Rangers was initially mentioned it was sheer delight from my point of view.

"When you start thinking about moving away from a club like Manchester United you wonder how big a drop you will have to take.

"But when you start mentioning Rangers then it's got the lot in terms of stature and history.

"If things were to work out and I was able to earn a move here it would be like a dream. "

Stewart added: "Scotland is where my family and friends are and moving to Rangers would be a fantastic opportunity.

"The set-up is great, the lads are nice and there's a good squad being put together, so to be involved in something like that would be a great way to start the new season.

"With the way things have gone over the past couple of years there's a question mark hanging over me, so I hope to show what the real Michael Stewart is all about in the next few weeks."

Despite Stewart's clear ambition to sign a deal at Rangers and return to Scotland from Manchester United, he would not finalise a contract.

Instead, in a dramatic turn of events Stewart would leave the pre-season trip to Austria early and be sent back to Manchester United by manager McLeish.

Stewart was unable to play in any matches for Rangers - other than charity matches or testimonials - due to red tape and so was told to go back to Old Trafford to consider his future.

McLeish did have the option to sign Stewart on loan but opted against a move that would take up the valuable single loan slot in his squad - clubs could only have one player on loan at any time due to Scottish FA rules.

Explaining the situation, McLeish said:  “We’ve hit a snag with the red tape. He can’t play for another club unless it’s a charity match or a testimonial.

“I could bring him in on loan but SFA rules dictate you’re only allowed one player on loan at any given time. I don’t want to commit to that just now before looking at other areas of my side.

“The rules should be relaxed due to the financial situation in football but at the moment they stand.

“It looks like he’ll need to go back to United and try and sort something out with them. He has been out of the first-team picture there and he might have to make a sacrifice. He’d be on lower wages at Rangers but that’s something he might have to do.”

READ MORE: 'We've been s***': Rangers player in frank form admission

That was the end of the road for Stewart at Rangers - and the start of the 'failed trialist' nickname -with the midfielder returning to Old Trafford and then agreeing a loan move to Hearts with a 40 percent wage cut to facilitate the move.

Following his loan at Hearts, Stewart signed a deal at rival Edinburgh club Hibernian where he would play for two seasons before returning to Hearts in 2007.

Stewart went on to sign for Turkish club Gençlerbirliği before playing for his final club Charlton in the 2011 season.

Reflecting on his trial spell at Rangers, Stewart told the Scottish Sun: "I still had a few years on my contract (at Manchester United).

"I was training at Rangers and I had come back up the road and agreed to sign a deal there with Big (Alex) McLeish.

"I had to agree compensation at United and he (Sir Alex) was basically trying to offer me a tenth of the contract to go.

"I was like 'I can't leave, that's like money that could look after me, I can't just go' and he was like 'f***ing hell, I never thought I'd see the day that money, f***ing money, money is dictating what you are doing.'

"He knew it would cut you deep and what buttons to press.

"At the end of it I was going to take it, but the whole Rangers thing fell through and that's when I went on loan to Hearts."