Written by – Jonny McFarlane
Sometimes I read the blogs and comments of Rangers fans and despair. While some have an impressive understanding of the dubious methods employed by board members and the severity of the financial situation, there are others who just can’t grasp the here and now. There is talk about Porto and Ajax, of scouting networks scouring the world for the best talent and of youth players being blended into the first team. I myself have spent much time musing on such issues and criticising Ally McCoist for his lack of ambition and foresight but there comes a time when someone somewhere must face up to the stark reality of where Rangers are.
One only has to read the comments on some of the articles on this very website to see how out of touch some supporters really are. There are fans out there who suggest signings that are in contract: “we could get him for 250k” they say apparently blissfully unaware of the clubs on-going financial predicament. They need to wake up and smell the coffee: Rangers won’t be paying fees for anyone for at least another season. It’s free transfers or nothing because the club is in financial meltdown.
In this context, talk of ‘the Ajax model’ is patently ridiculous. The chance was there of course. When Charles Green took charge, it was the perfect time to implement such a model and rebuild the football club with the IPO money. Times have changed. The cash has been squandered and the club remains underdeveloped in key areas of the football department while the business rocks from one crisis to the next.
Next season is the first back at the full-time level of the game and sees strong competition from Hearts and potentially Hibs in a bloodbath of a title race. With no money and no long-term plan, the key priority is moving forward: to win the Championship. The ‘Ajax model’ will have to wait. There is no money, time, nor inclination to implement it.
With the departure of the likes of Little, Hutton, Simonsen and Cribari, it can be assumed that approximately 15k has been removed from the Ibrox wage bill. Common sense might suggest that, given my comments about the fiscal situation, this might best be kept as a year on year saving but this notion has to be balanced against the remaining squads chances of promotion. Assuming that Hearts will be a tough proposition with their talented youngsters and Craig Levein in charge, it seems to me that the footballing department needs strengthening to guarantee promotion to the Premiership. If Hibs are relegated this becomes even more pertinent.
I have long advocated for the removal of McCoist but the realist in me accepts that this isn’t going to happen. Whatever transfer moves Rangers make have to make sense in the context of his ‘team building’. With that in mind the arrival of Kenny Miller and Kris Boyd make perfect sense and should be celebrated as clear improvements on the current squad. All other arguments aside, surely nobody is going to argue that they improve the starting eleven.
Regardless of what you think about the limitations of either, both are more than good enough to cut a swath through this Championship. Boyd in particular has looked excellent in the top flight scoring 22 goals in a struggling team and adding many new aspects to his all round play. At just 30 years old his signing is so obvious its like a cold, hard slap to the face. Who could do a better job, would agree to sign and be free?
If you listen to some, the club should be using its (non-existent) scouting structure to pick up a talented foreigner (unwanted by other clubs), an unpolished diamond and sell him for millions in three years time. If it were only that easy. Look at Celtic and their much heralded system. For every Hooper there’s a Pukki, for every Wanyama there’s a Rogic and for every Izaguirre there’s a Juarez. Can Rangers afford to spend a single penny of their wage budget on a mibbie-aye, mibbie-naw? In the face of adversity, you need certainty and Boyd delivers 25 goals next year with ease.
Kenny Miller is harder to justify at 35 and would not represent a solid three year investment in the same way as Boyd. I haven’t seen him since last year’s England v Scotland match at Wembley (where he was superb) but he cannot keep that electric pace forever. Regardless, at championship level, partnered with Boyd, Miller should still have enough in the tank to be a threat and certainly register as an improvement on Nicky Clark. We know, like Boyd, Miller has the mentality to be a Ranger and that can often be the singular most important factor to success at the club.
It’s important to remember, to keep stressing, that Rangers are a Championship club and need to sign players accordingly. The players do not need to be at a level to challenge Celtic and European clubs, rather Dumbarton and Queen of the South. Boyd and Miller will do that, no problem at all. Everything else is secondary to the reality of the situation and they should be welcomed back with open arms.