The wrap – Scunthorpe 3 Oxford United 3

But, I can’t even…

As frustrating as it was, a draw having led 3-0 is still a freak result. I can’t remember the last time it happened to us before Saturday, less still when we did it to someone else. What is tricky about this Oxford side is knowing what was freak about it. Is it that we scored three times? That we conceded three times? That we led so comprehensively away from home? That we capitulated so badly?

Which of those is us, and what’s the freak? It’s so difficult to tell.

The good news is that we would probably have been happy with a draw before we started, and it extended our unbeaten run to 6 games. So, it would appear that the result is not so much a failure as a missed opportunity. Should that be the end of it?

Last week it was announced that Nile Ranger was training with us, apparently unattached players train with clubs all the time, but Ranger is tabloid box office due to his extensive rap sheet of misdemeanours and so the news made the Daily Mail.

This is not the first time we’ve been faced with the dilemma of considering a player surrounded by negative connotations. Adam Chapman killed a man in a car accident and was sent to prison while Luke McCormick was signed to cover a goalkeeping crisis despite having spent time in prison for killing two children while drink driving.

Ranger’s problems are more extensive than both these players, but he’s never killed anyone. He’s been involved in largely petty crime for most of his adult life and has got into disciplinary problems at pretty much every club he’s been to. Understandably, there was little support from the fans for signing him.

But, there was support for re-signing Adam Chapman after his release, and McCormick was, to some degree, accepted when he turned in some half-decent performances. It’s quite difficult to apply different rules to different people facing the same problems. It’s OK to have opinions, but difficult to arbitrarily decide what is acceptable and not depending on personal prejudice. We’re not Tommy Robinson, after all.

Tommy Robinson is quite a good reference here. His failure is to recognise the rule of law. You make a law and then you apply it. You don’t see something you don’t like and make up a law to cover it. So with Ranger, whatever you think of him should really be consistent with whatever you thought of Chapman and McCormick.

To my mind, as a free man he should be treated no differently to any other professional footballer. As difficult as that might feel to us individually, and it does to me, he has to be treated fairly. Karl Robinson is aware of Ranger’s past and said his previous actions aren’t in keeping with the values of the club or a professional footballer. But, if he shows he’s sorted himself out and he can be an asset to the club, then he could get a contract.

I agree with Robinson’s assessment on this, so I don’t object to Ranger being considered. But, the fact we are having this debate is symptomatic of the difficulties we face. In short, we shouldn’t be here in the first place. It’s normal to have players with long-term injuries, but good squads and decent set-ups can absorb those problems and carry on regardless. They don’t find themselves scratching around looking at players who most clubs wouldn’t consider. In simple terms, we’ve been on the back foot  since August.

And so it seems with the Scunthorpe result; freaks happen, they happened under Michael Appleton and Chris Wilder, they happened under Pep Clotet. But, the club needs to be robust enough to minimise the impact of freak happenings. It may be that we threw two points away, but we shouldn’t need those points Saturday as much as we do in the same way we shouldn’t have to scratch around for a striker in the way we are.

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