Soon after taking control of the club, Rangers Chief Executive Graham Wallace proclaimed that he is implementing a five year plan to regain the club’s place of competing with Celtic on a domestic level & competing against Europe’s best in the Champions League.
Rangers Report is publishing an ongoing series that is meant to assess & provide a recommendation or two as Rangers have publicly embarked on their five year plan.
Part Five: Evaluating the Current Construction of the Team
Back in the summer of 2012, Rangers season in Scotland’s Division Three commenced with Ally McCoist leading a training session of only a handful of first team players. The images of Rangers practicing with a squad that couldn’t actually field a starting eleven was surreal & depressing. That is why it is unfair to claim that Rangers’ rebuilding began in that first season in the dregs of Scottish football. McCoist was put in a position in which he was desperate simply to find bodies to wear the blue shirt for Rangers as they competed in Division Three. However, the dust has since settled & the club has claimed that a five year plan is now in place. Given these proclamations – it is time to evaluate how the team is being constructed.
The proof is in the fine print – so Rangers Report presents an assessment of the club’s Best Five Player Contracts, coupled with the Worst Five Contracts that constitute the current Rangers squad.
Top Five Player Contracts
1. Lee Wallace – signed until the end of 2016-17 season
The January transfer window became Rangers opportunity to proclaim their allegiance to Wallace. The low-ball bids from Nottingam Forest & Blackpool were pushed aside from Rangers as the groundwork has now been cemented for the Scottish international to become Rangers next captain. Wallace joined Rangers as a 23-year old eager to play European football. Now the hopes are that he will be the player who has gone from the ecstasy of scoring that glorious goal vs Celtic to the lows of the last few years & will rise from those lows in a hopeful return to glory. He could have walked away, but he didn’t. If Rangers can return to SPFL & ultimately Europe, Lee Wallace will become one of the ultimate legends in the history of the club.
2. Lewis MacLeod – signed through the 2017-18 season
Many have questioned Rangers commitment to its young players but credit should be given to the club for locking up MacLeod for the long term. If all goes well, Rangers will be three years into its return to the SPFL before MacLeod’s contract expires. It is clear that Rangers see MacLeod as a critical piece of the club going forward & it has been refreshing to see MacLeod be given the room to grow as a footballer before our eyes in the first team.
3. David Templeton – signed through the 2015-16 season
Templeton has largely been an enigma for Rangers. At his best, he displays a quality that is light years beyond his opponent at this level. At his worst, he comes off as a disinterested symbol of today’s athlete – happy to get paid while not exactly playing with the passion fans expect from Rangers players. However, his recent play has been refreshing & a reminder of how critical Templeton’s talent will be over the next few years.
4. Jon Daly – signed through the 2014-15 season
It appears that Daly has one main role to play for Rangers – to get the club back to SPFL. Daly is a player that largely dominates at the League One level & his rugged play will begreatly relied upon in the Scottish Championship. However, it is unlikely that the 31 year old forward will be the #9 when Rangers makes it’s inevitable return to the top of Scottish football. If Rangers do return to the top flight in 2015, it will likely be because of the work of Daly even if the return season could begin without his services.
5. Nicky Clark – signed through the end of the 2015-16 season
As Rangers claw their way back up the rungs of Scottish football, it is critical that they use it as an opportunity to identify & add talent that has so far been overlooked by the top clubs. Rangers signing of Nicky Clark from Queen of the South is hopefully the first of several occurrences of when Rangers can pluck talent from its competition at an affordable price. Prior to his injury, Clark showed flashes of the success he displayed last season at the League One level & there is a genuine hope that he can develop as a star player going forward.
The Five Worst Player Contracts
1. Steven Smith – signed through the 2016-17 season
Really…. Smith is signed for the next three plus seasons?!?! A player that lost his job playing for a poor Portland Timbers side was brought back to Rangers with no clear role to play. Yes, his experience & grit could be useful next season in the Scottish Championship, but the reliance on Smith to add depth to the squad only gets in the way of a younger (& cheaper) player that Rangers should be developing in his place.
2. Arnold Peralta – signed through the 2016-17 season
Ally McCoist deserves credit for reaching out to Central America for talent, however signing a below average right back from a rigid Honduras national team is a questionable use of capital. Peralta has been utilized by both club & country in a role that he is supposedly unaccustomed to playing. Reportedly, Peralta is best used in a defensive midfield position, even though there is little actual evidence that he has ever played this role. For Honduras, he features as a right back & for Rangers he has mostly been deployed on the right side of midfield. Peralta struggled early on in his adjustment to Scottish football & there has been little evidence that he is a player that warrants a long term deal.
3. Bilel Mohsni – signed through the 2015-16 season
Rangers were desperate to add a center back to its roster throughout a summer that saw the club seeking the services of Boris Pandza, Christophe Bell, & Marius Zaliukas. The signing of Mohsni was a calculated risk by a club desperate to solidify the center of its defense. However, Mohsni’s raw talent has been overshadowed by bouts of amateurish behavior & reckless tackling that plagued him with Southend. While at Southend, his own manager – Paul Sturrock – labeled Mohsni as a ‘hothead’ & as a ‘walking foul’. Sadly, Mohsni has done little to rid himself of that reputation. He is clearly a talent that needs refining, but it is doubtful he is a player Rangers should rely upon as the competition becomes more rigorous in the coming seasons.
4. Ross Perry – signed through the 2014-15 season
Perry has been injury prone & largely unimpressive in his limited time featuring for the Rangers first team. He has become a player that really has no role in the club’s future & can only hope to be loaned out as an act of mercy. It is doubtful Perry will feature for Rangers in a critical role during the duration of his remaining contract.
5. Richard Foster – signed through the 2014-15 season
Foster symbolizes the ultimate shortfall of Ally McCoist’s approach to the 2013-14 season. While Foster’s experience is beneficial in the club’s dressing room, his role on the pitch could ultimately stifle the development of a younger talent with more potential (Kyle McAusland). There is a good chance that McCoist will rely on a player of Foster’s pedigree as it competes in the Championship next year but it will be at the cost of developing a young player the club should rely upon as a key (& cost effective) piece of the Rangers backline.
Contracts expiring after this season…
Andy Little, Emilson Cribari, Steve Simonsen, Kyle Hutton
Comments – Andy Little appears to be the only player that Rangers will actively seek to resign during this upcoming off-season.
Contracts expiring after 2014-15…
Lee McCulloch, Scott Gallacher, Sebastien Faure, Luca Gasparatto, Chris Hegarty, Kyle McAusland
Comments – The real dilemma will be overshadowed by Rangers’ commitment to McCulloch while it must decide which young players will continue with the club as it (hopefully) prepares for a return to SPFL.
Contracts expiring after 2015-16 season…
Nicky Law, Ian Black, Dean Shiels
Comments – Rangers have clearly identified the core of players that it will rely upon to lead the team back to the top & it is these players that will drive the club back to the top of Scottish football.
Contracts expiring after 2016-17…
Cammy Bell, Barrie McKay, Robbie Crawford
Comments – McKay & Crawford are shrewd long-term investments whose pay-offs could be critical to the club’s long-term success,while McCoist has identified Bell as his goalkeeper of the future.
Contracts expiring after 2017-18…
Comments – Aird joins fellow teenager MacLeod as youth players that could be cornerstones of Rangers’ future. Like MacLeod, Aird has recently been given the opportunity to develop his game at a first team level & it is likely that the long-term investment in the Canadian has spurred that commitment.
- Which contracts have shown the most foresight? Which ones have been the biggest blunders?