The difficulty confronting a club which began the season with such promise is twofold. Rangers must not only find a replacement for a calm, honest style of leadership, but also need to ensure that whoever becomes manager makes it his first duty to discover someone to assume Wilkins' similar role on the pitch. It was apparent yesterday that Rangers may miss the latter even more than the former.
In the periods of the match when they did not lack assurance, they were bereft of composure. Young and enthusiastic though their crowded cast in midfield was, there was not a single member of it who could change the pace and direction of play as Wilkins had done with such authority for so long.
Rangers' owner Chris Wright has discounted both the possibility of another player-manager, as well as the appointment of George Graham. He has not quite ruled out the hiring of somebody who is with another club, however, and this started rumours last night about both Terry Venables, now with Portsmouth, and, more likely, Crystal Palace's director of football, Steve Coppell.
If Wright is honest, he will not under-sell the difficulty of the task which awaits. Rangers were yesterday outsmarted by a well-organised West Bromwich Albion which counter-attacked swiftly. Paul Peschisolido, on his debut, scored a delightful goal after nine minutes, his left-foot shot skidding into the corner after he left his marker. Albion altered their format with 30 minutes left and, although Rangers had their frantic attacking moments, the substitute Bob Taylor increased the size of the lead and Wright's headache with a minute left.