Football: I Can See Clearly Now le Guen Has Gone; BARRY SMILING AGAIN AFTER BEING DRIVEN TO DESPAIR BY FRENCH BOSS UEFA EURO 2008 Austria-Switzerland SCOTLAND V GEORGIA GROUP B QUALIFIER, TODAY, KO 3.00PM
Byline: Iain Campbell
BARRY FERGUSON admits that just three short months ago he had serious reason to believe his career had suffered a potentially fatal hammer blow.
As the Rangers midfielder prepared to lead Scotland out against Georgia this afternoon, he recalled that his life was again at a massive crossroads around the turn of the year.
Stripped of the captaincy by Paul Le Guen at Ibrox, Ferguson was worried that for the second time in his career he would have to pack his bags and head south to the Premiership.
There were offers, but the Rangers and Scotland skipper admits he did not really want to think about them as his life descended into turmoil when he was ordered to stay away from the club. But Le Guen's shock resignation combined with the stunning, if time delayed, "job swap" of Walter Smith (below) and Alex McLeish meant that Ferguson was again working with two of the three bosses who had the most impact on his career.
Sitting at Scotland's Loch Lomond-side headquarters, he said: "Life is good, although it couldn't get any worse, could it?
"I am enjoying my football now and I don't want to dwell on what happened because that is all in the past now.
"I am waking up every morning looking forward to going into training, whereas towards the end of the last Rangers manager's regime, I wasn't. Things are so different now.
"I'm not going to deny it crossed my mind I might have to move on.
I thought I had to try something different. That 10 days was a nightmare."
While leaving Ibrox for a second time was something the 29-year-old midfielder did not want to contemplate, it got so serious that agent John Viola jetted back from Dubai to set up transfers to the Premiership.
Newcastle, Aston Villa, Everton and Manchester City were all believed to be in the frame but the Scotland skipper admits he never wanted to leave Govan.
He said: "I had a few offers to consider but my aim was to stay at Rangers and it has worked out. I didn't really want to consider other clubs but as time went on, I had to start to think about having to move again.
"I had to stay professional. I was told not to come into the club for a couple of days but when I went back, I had to get my head down and keep my fitness levels up.
"It was a hard time and after what happened, I totally value what I have now.
"I said before, when I was injured, that I evaluated what I had but when something that means a lot to you is taken away, you value it more. …