While the opinions of an online community are never truly representative of the overall weight of opinion among a fanbase, McGregor is certainly not short of critics who think last season should have been his last in a Rangers jersey.
But that won’t have the slightest impact on a man who has never paid even superficial attention to what many football players and managers now fashionably describe as ‘outside noise’. It’s safe to say that the singular character that is McGregor would have an even more blunt sentence for all of this.
He has a mentality that has served him well over a remarkable professional career that will now span a 22nd season and deserves far greater respect than some of those populating social media platforms and supporters. on line. forums.
The man whose opinion matters most, Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst, remains fully grateful for the qualities McGregor brings to the Ibrox club, both on the pitch and in the heart of the training ground environment. .
It was telling that van Bronckhorst is set to hail McGregor’s decision to sign for another year by hailing the ‘positive influence’ he has on the rest of Rangers’ players, while stressing the importance his dressing room has for individuals “who really understand the club”. .
This indicates that McGregor’s continued role goes far beyond simply trying to keep the ball out of the Rangers net on matchdays. Although not yet ready to take on an official coaching role, McGregor’s voice is as influential and valuable as any member of van Bronckhorst’s backroom staff.
But while he is more than happy to pass on his vast experience to others, McGregor’s priority remains the pursuit of extra silverware as he prepares to add to the 469 first-team appearances he has made. during his two spells as a Rangers player.
While there can be no guarantee of first-choice status, it’s safe to assume that he wouldn’t have signed his new contract if he hadn’t believed he retained every possibility of continuing as a van Bronckhorst’s number one when the new campaign kicks off next month.
Among those who believe this summer was McGregor’s time to hang up the gloves, their criticisms focus on his domestic form last season – notably in the unsuccessful defense of the Premiership title.
There’s no doubt he made mistakes that proved costly in the reckless loss of points that allowed Celtic to turn the tide after the winter break and reclaim the crown. Yet McGregor was only part of a defense that, as was always likely, simply couldn’t replicate the remarkable toughness that saw them break all sorts of clean sheet records as they lifted the title so invincible under Steven Gerrard the previous season.
McGregor’s age just becomes an easy stick to verbally beat him whenever an error leads to an opposing goal. The reality is that there was no shortage of powerful evidence last season that his brilliance as one of the best goalkeepers Scotland has produced remains intact.
During Rangers’ epic run to the Europa League final, McGregor produced a display of saves as impressive and important as any he had ever made. Like his great friend, rival and contemporary Craig Gordon, he is always able to defy the odds with breathtaking and instinctive interventions in situations where the opponent seems certain to score.
Nobody seriously questions whether Gordon, just 11 months younger than McGregor, is good enough to continue as Hearts and Scotland’s number one next season, a campaign which will also see the third member of the exceptional generation of international goalkeepers in the country. – David Marshall, 37 – back in the Premiership with Hibs.
It remains to be seen if Rangers will add a new face to their goalkeeping ranks or if the number one position will continue to be filled by McGregor and Jon McLaughlin.
As he approaches his 35th birthday in September, McLaughlin is clearly hoping for an extended opportunity to establish himself as Rangers’ first-choice and then force his return to the Scotland squad.
Since leaving Sunderland two years ago, McLaughlin has hardly taken a wrong foot every time he has been called upon by Rangers. In the first 30 team appearances he has made so far, the former Hearts man has kept 21 clean sheets. He has also shown he is capable of handling the pressure that comes with the biggest occasions, such as winning the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic at Hampden in April.
When McLaughlin walked off the pitch a minute from time in the Scottish Cup final win over Hearts the following month to be replaced by McGregor, he searched the world for a sentimental substitution to mark the end of a truly legendary Rangers career.
But after a period of reflection, McGregor decided his story wasn’t over yet as his competitive fires burned as fiercely as ever. It would be foolish to bet against him adding a glorious new chapter and putting those who wrote him off firmly in their box.