“HERE, can you do the manbies tonight?” Words sure to send a shiver down the spine of any football journalist.

For those who don’t know the lingo, the term ‘manbies’ refers to the man-by-man ratings that are compiled on every major game in the country. It sounds simple enough; cast your eye over the play, offer 50 words or so on each individual’s performance, and score them out of 10. What could be easier?

Well, quite a lot, as it turns out.

Even doing it for one side and filing on the whistle is difficult enough, but often you will be doing it for all 22 players (plus subs) and sometimes even when you are also writing a match report or a colour piece from the game.

Now, before you get your teeny-tiny violin out, this is not a ‘woe is me, the poor overworked journalist who watches football for a living’ sort of article. Although, all sympathy is gratefully received. But there is nothing that people ask me more about in relation to this job, or call me out as a clueless *insert expletive here* for, than some rating I have given a player that they disagree with.

And the players are just as bad. My now colleague Tam McManus, who writes in the Evening Times’ sister paper The Herald, admitted as much on Twitter the other night. He told of how players would take strops about their ratings on the Monday, and while I have yet to be on the receiving end myself, they would often phone journalists to complain about their score.

So, when Rangers manager Steven Gerrard said in his post-match comments on Thursday night that if any of his players were under an eight, he would have questions to ask, I knew immediately that somebody would be getting it in the neck on Friday morning.

A couple of the papers had caused a stir by publishing online ratings immediately after the Ibrox side’s impressive win over Rapid Wien, and the journalists in question were torn asunder for failing to score according to the high bar set by Gerrard.

This was particularly the case when it came to scores given to Ryan Kent and Ovie Ejari. The problem with ratings though is that not only do snap judgements on a player’s performance have to be made without proper reflection, but the whole concept is entirely subjective.

Try it next time you are watching a game in the house if you don’t believe me (or you are incredibly sad), and then discuss your marks with a mate. You’ll be going at it hammer and tongs before you know it.

Doing them for an Old Firm game, or even for any match involving either side of the Glasgow divide, is wrought with peril. This is particularly the case for games that are live on television, where a broadcaster or commentator may hone in on a certain player’s contribution and thus influence the wider group-think on social media about how well or otherwise somebody is playing.

Give a score for a player that a fan from that side doesn’t agree with, and you will be labelled either as ‘bitter’ (code for a Celtic fan) or a rampant Sevconian depending on what side of the bridge the troll in question dwells on.

But the subjectivity of ratings is also the beauty of them, because they are a great talking point. Everybody has got an opinion, and nowadays everyone has a platform to air it. The post-match discussion, whether online or in the boozer, is one of the best things about the game.

So, by way of explanation at least, here is the system I use for doing the manbies for the next time you see a rating of mine that makes your blood boil.

Basically, everyone starts with a five. A solid if unspectacular performance will see you up to a six, while a real influence on the game may see you bumped to a seven. Eights are reserved for highly impressive performances, while nines will generally only be doled out to those who either bag multiple goals or assists, or have produced heroics at the other end. These are rare, while I don’t think I have ever given anyone a 10.

That isn’t being mean, but you have to give yourself somewhere to go. I have yet to see a performance like Lionel Messi’s against Spurs the other night covering Scottish football, but you just never know.

Fours are generally kept for those who are either injured early, come on late, or have had a bit of a stinker. You would probably have had to cost your side a goal or miss a few sitters to get a three, which I think is the lowest mark I have ever given outwith an injury-time sub.

The important thing to remember in all of this, is that ratings are simply an opinion, not a statement of fact coming from anyone claiming a higher authority on knowledge of the game.

We can agree to disagree. For example, I bet if you and I had to rate this column, we would be poles apart.