Over the last few years, Rangers fans have got into the habit - or rather, Rangers have made the fans get into the habit - of being relieved that the season is over. After uninspiring performances, painful losses in big matches and many an off-field nonsense, the break has almost come to feel like a burden being lifted. The beckoning summer offers a chance to rebuild, to replenish lost energies and gear up for the next season's battles. This year, though, something feels different - and not in a good way.

Perhaps it is the thought of yet another squad rebuild after years of half-arsed or completely botched attempts. Maybe it's the Stadium fiasco and not knowing where we'll be pitching up to watch our side. Or could it be it's just inevitable that after a while, the downbeat mood from one season will bleed into the next? Hell, maybe it's the weather. Most likely it's a combination of them all.

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The reasons can be argued, but what is difficult to shake is the notion of malaise. The factors mentioned - with the exception of the weather, which in fairness even the most performative Twitter hot-take machine would struggle to pin on the club - have one central theme: mistakes. There is a sense among the support that the club, to put it mildly, can't get anything right. Now, whether that is fair or not is very much down to the perceptive powers of the individual supporter but it doesn't change the perception. Rangers stumble along from one month to the next, hoping whichever latest swing for the fences we are attempting will work. It then doesn't, fans are asked to put it behind them and on the circus rumbles.

Signings are often a short-term summer fix but there's a Catch-22 inherent in Rangers dealings - namely, the type of signings that would excite the support are beyond the means of Rangers. The changing world of football finance has been difficult for some supporters to fully get their heads around. Simply put, almost every club in the EPL will buy a single player this summer that costs as much individually as every club in Scotland will buy combined. FFP is another area which some of the support struggle with when they say the board 'must back the manager' when the fact is that even if a Shiekh came in tomorrow he wouldn't be able to spend £100m on players without breaching UEFA rules. We have to live within our means and, for those of us who grew up in the 90s, that is incredibly frustrating.

angers Chairman John Bennett alongside Rangers Manager Philippe Clement (left)Rangers Chairman John Bennett (centre) alongside Rangers Manager Philippe Clement (left) (Image: SNS)

The club's tendency in times like this is to keep its head down and try to let results, be they onfield or in the market, do the talking. It's an idea which comes from a good place believe it or not - they don't want to annoy the support with a load of chat and instead want to focus on delivering tangible actions - but that isn't the type of leadership we need right now. Being worried how words are perceived and therefore choosing not to deliver them is backing down, not pitching up.

The question isn't if Rangers are a bit of a mess in summer 2024. With no CEO, Head of Academy or even a place to play when the season begins, we demonstrably are. The question is how we intend to emerge from it. What are the plans? Where are we going? How are we going to get there?

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Nature abhors a vacuum and in this age of social media, this silence will be filled by ever-louder, ever more shrill voices. We all know accounts that seem to exist in a perennial competition to be the angriest, the most upset, the ones ever aching to tell everyone else when it goes wrong that they saw it coming. It's as if they derive some sort of compensatory pleasure from this. In many ways, it's self-protection, trying to guard themselves against the inevitable disappointment. I've never subscribed to this because the hurt still hurts when it comes and I don't take any joy in taunting other fans that I knew it would. But when those voices are pretty much the only ones out there it drains the energy of the moderate support. That takes us right back to that word again: malaise.

Now, before anyone says 'it's only July 7', you are absolutely right. But I would argue these next three weeks are absolutely crucial in setting the mood for the campaign ahead. Business-as-usual is not an option for Rangers now because business-as-usual is exactly what we fans fear. The Chairman needs to address where we are and what he'll do to get us out of it. The manager needs to tell us about the team he is building and how he envisions it will work. Lastly, there needs to be a club-wide acknowledgement that things have to change.

Rangers are not, as I write this, at the point of crisis, but anyone who says they can't see it hovering on the horizon is deluding themselves. This next month will, for good or worse, shape the whole tone of 24/25. Rangers still have the opportunity to take this moment, shape it and drive us on. Too often it feels like Rangers are a club where things happen to us, rather than because of us.

I count myself as reasonably optimistic and I don't think there is a single problem that can't be fixed at Rangers if the right directions are taken. Let's start by bringing supporters in on the journey. Treat people like adults and you'll get adult reactions. We know we're a long way from where we need to be - so set a course and bring us with you.