Monday, July 6, 2009

6 July 2006 - Sometimes, A Bright Start Is Just A Flash In The Pan

On 6 July 2006, Rangers beat defending Irish Premier League champions Linfield FC by the score of 2-0 in a preseason friendly at Linfield's home ground of Windsor Park in Belfast.

The match was Rangers' first under new manager Paul Le Guen. A former star defender at Stade Brest, Nantes Atlantique, and PSG, he had previously managed Stade Rennais from 1998 to 2001 and had most recently spent three years at Lyon, from 2002 to 2005, where he led them to the Ligue 1 title each season. He resigned from Lyon on 9 May 2005 and spent the 2005-06 season out of football, despite offers from Benfica and Lazio.

Rangers tapped Le Guen in March 2006 to replace manager Alex McLeish for the 2006-07 season. Despite the win over Linfield and unabashed optimism from club chairman David Murray, who claimed Le Guen would bring a "massive moonbeam of success" to the Glasgow club, Le Guen's tenure was troubled from the beginning. Rangers earned only 15 points from their first 10 matches, including a home loss to Inverness CT, making it the worst debut for an Old Firm manager in almost 30 years.

Le Guen's situation worsened in November, when Rangers were eliminated from the Scottish Cup by First Division side St. Johnstone. It was the first time Rangers had been knocked out of a league tournament at home by a lower division side.

On 4 January 2007, with Rangers second in the table, but 17 points behind rivals Celtic, the club announced that Le Guen had resigned. He remains Rangers' shortest-serving manager and the only one to leave the club before completing a full season at the helm.

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