Written by – John McIntosh
When Rangers were demoted to the third division in 2012 and our holding company liquidated many fans were galvanised in following their beloved team up and down the country, visiting grounds they had never been to before. In that sense it certainly has been a journey but many fans, including myself, hoped for a new philosophy and an improved playing style – this sadly has not happened.
Why was a five year plan never implemented?
I would like to note several differences between a club that have successfully implemented a five year plan – Southampton and a club that is adverse to the concept – Rangers.
In 2009, Nicola Cortese took over full control at Southampton and instantly set a five year plan whereby they would be transformed from a team in administration with a ten point penalty at the foot of League One to becoming a Premiership team within five years – he was driven by sheer ambition, as he described Southampton as “his baby”.
If you analyze these two clubs, Rangers and Southampton, in their moments of crisis – there are similarities. Both are big teams who had fallen and deserved to be playing in the top flight of their respective countries & both experienced financial peril but that’s where it ends. Southampton from 2009 onward have been transformed, not just by promotions but by their intelligent philosophy and playing style which has won many admirers.
Rangers under Ally McCoist are renowned for getting the win against part timers while playing terrible football. They rely on the long ball to a lone frontman, Jon Daly, whilst not bringing through enough of their talented youth side – one of which, Charlie Telfer, has sadly left for Dundee United due to a lack of first team opportunities. It is quite clear that there is no philosophy of buying young talented players – developing them for a couple of years & then selling them for a profit. Nor is there an emphasis on putting a high importance on Murray Park graduates – which is a shame as we currently look to be signing a 35 year old has been. Sorry if I’m not overjoyed at this signing.
In their five year plan, Southampton noted that they wanted to promote from within in regards to their talented youth team and this has worked wonders with Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw both coming through their youth ranks. This was enhanced by their willingness to spend around £30 million on revamping their training ground complex in order to develop the next line of kids. Rangers have that infrastructure already in place yet are unwilling to allow the youth team players enough chances to prove their worth in the first team.
Southampton also noted that they wanted their team to play an entertaining style, which was an attacking approach to the game under Nigel Adkins and the fans loved him for this. Adkins was able to guide the team to the Premiership but under Mauricio Pochettino they implemented a high pressure, possession based football style – which is used by many top teams in the world these days, such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich and they are getting a great deal of praise for it. Both styles are great to watch, effective, & fans are happy to see their team play this way over long ball punts which is rather tedious.
It’s clear why Charles Green and his cronies chose not to adopt a five year plan as they wanted a short term deal to make as much money as possible. While the IPO was a massive success and getting a deal with Puma was impressive, the sad reality is that the way our great club is being ran is a shambles. We have burned through all the IPO money through high bonuses and wages to directors. Also we have built a squad of overpaid players that will bring no sell on value to us.
We need to adopt a footballing playing style that presses teams high up the park which reduces the space for the opponent, it quickly can win the ball back & then retain possession & then attack. This cannot be done playing 4-5-1 with a striker who can’t run, a simple tweak to that formation and personnel & it is likely that a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 can make that style of football work. We have the personnel to pull it off – the question is does our manager believe in this style? I doubt it.
On to the club’s philosophy in terms of signing players. We look to have secured the services for the third time of Kenny Miller, a 35 year old striker. This signing saddens me & is the opposite of the Ajax/Porto model that our manager supposedly wished to implement.
We really should be looking to scout two different age groups. Firstly, 16-19 year olds with potential for growth that can be brought in very cheap. We then develop them either in first team or the youth side. Then we either sell or promote them. Rangers should also target 20-26 year olds. This is the area you can make real money. For this philosophy to work you need a great scouting infrastructure. For example would fans prefer to invest in a scouting infrastructure or to spend money on a Kenny Miller or on a Kyle Hutton ? For me the answer is very simple.
Also you can use the amazing infrastructure already in place at Murray Park to promote some of the talented youth side. The U20s have just had a fantastic season winning the SFA Youth Cup & finished a close second in the league. But for me that isn’t success, for me success would be bringing through three to four players into the first team- giving them 5-15 games each season minimum. Consider that only two U20 players got any first team action last season with Charlie Telfer getting just 20 minutes & Calum Gallacher getting 220 minutes. That is not success, that’s abject failure.
The fact that some fans aren’t renewing their season tickets is largely due to the style of boring, lump it up the park football. Damning questions need to be asked of why are we not adopting a style of football that entertains the crowd as well as being successful. You don’t have to give up success to entertain. Some of the biggest teams on the planet use these philosophies & style of football. Why can’t we?
The board needs to be stabilized & in an ideal world trustworthy. Which it is anything but. However,for this case I wanted to focus on the footballing side & any Rangers board should have these philosophies. Entertaining football must be served up by any Rangers manager. For example, Swansea will not employ any manager that does not play football the “Swansea way”.
There is no reason why Rangers could not implement a five year plan. We currently sit in the Championship, the 2nd tier of Scottish football. Within three seasons, we should have won the top flight title. Within five years we should have reached the group stages of the Champions League. For me that is a minimum and with the right scouting infrastructure, management team and footballing philosophy it is achievable. Sadly the way we are going right now it is not looking likely.
You can follow John McIntosh on Twitter @JohnMcIntosh19