AS YOU grow older – and most assuredly, there are few things that age you more than following Rangers – you become more inured to shock.

Maybe it’s just that there’s very little that’s new after a while. History might not repeat itself, but it does rhyme, after all.

I will hold my hands up though and admit I was a little surprised to see Mark Hateley’s description of Antonio Colak’s performance against Union Saint-Gilloise.

The big man referred to him as a "waste of space" and while it would be hard to disagree with that assessment on the night, it seemed strange he singled him out after what was collectively one of the worst European performances Rangers have put in. Indeed, if experience brings empathy, Hateley of all people should have known what Colak was going through.

In the interests of fairness, I should hold my hands up and say I am an undiluted, unashamed Mark Hateley fanboy. Watching him ragdoll defences before outdoing them with sublime skill was a fixture of my youth. Hateley was terrifying in full flight. You could kick him, and he would just kick you harder. You could sprint against him, and he had just run past you. Show him onto a weaker foot? No use. When this wonderful cocktail of fury and elegance was in his pomp – and his pomp lasted years – there were few better in Europe, never mind Britain.

The ironic thing about my love for Mark though was that I hated him, truly detested him, on arrival. It wasn’t his fault. He was keeping Ally McCoist out of the Rangers team and to a 12-year-old that was the football equivalent of taking a dump in the aisle at Sunday school. Ally was my hero. Ally still IS my hero. How dare this guy just waltz in and take his place. Who did he think he was?

Of course, it was not Mark Hateley who was leaving out Ally McCoist. That was Graeme Souness. But the problem was that while I loved Ally, I also loved the boss. And I was not particularly keen to be angry at him either. So the third point in this triangle got the blame. Looking back, Hateley was not keeping McCoist out, Mo Johnston was. Souness was going to play with a target man so it was Hateley and one other. Such insight was beyond me then though, so instead, I just complained about the Englishman. I was not the only one.

What did not help Mark in his opening spell at Ibrox was his form. He had come off two injury-hit seasons in France and needed rebuilt. Back then we did not pay much attention to the French League though so the equation was simple: he is playing, he must be fit, so be good. Truthfully, he was not. It took a while, crowned by his title-winning display against Aberdeen on the last day of the season. He turned around the support and would then memorably go on to form one of THE great partnerships with Ally. In fact, up until John Lundstram’s transformation last season Hateley was the poster boy for turning fan sentiment from negative to positive. All is well that ends well.

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So that was the reason for my surprise. Guys arriving at a new club, sadly, do not all hit the ground running. They are in a new country, a new environment, getting to know their teammates, the league and adapting. Snap judgements after two competitive matches are not helpful, nor are they accurate. How can they possibly be?

Colak will never be Mark Hateley. He is a universe away from that. He is not Alfredo Morelos either. But he is clearly shown enough to inspire Giovanni van Bronckhorst to splash nearly £2 million on him. He may well turn out to be a diddy, but I think it is only fair we give him time to prove himself one way or another.

Fans will always make snap judgements and, being Scottish, double down on them unless the evidence against is absolutely insurmountable. But I do not think it is too much to ask that ex-pros, who after all can offer insight that we as fans simply can’t, are a bit more balanced. Especially when they have walked in those shoes once upon a time.

You can hear more from David on the Heart and Hand podcast. Subscribe here for as little as £1.50 a month or listen free to the flagship shows on all good podcast platforms.