Once Derek Llambias walked through the doors of Ibrox – operating once again as Mike Ashley’s right hand man – the whispers began about Rangers relying heavily on loans (players, as well as cash) in order to breathe some life into the club.
Last week, Ally McCoist directly addressed the possibilities that the influx of players would be coming in January. Since then we here at the Rangers Report offices have been working diligently to piece together a list of possible additions to Rangers playing squad.
The following list was compiled by throwing some names at a few Newcastle United bloggers & then having them reciprocate with names of their own.
Note: all of this is purely speculative.
Remie Streete, center back
20 years old. Has made two appearances while on loan with Port Vale. One as a starter, one off the bench. Had one shot on target & committed one foul in the start. Injuries to Newcastle’s back line cut short Streete’s loan spell & he is being prepped for his EPL debut in the near future.
Ed Harrison, who runs The Newcastle United Blog, provided this insight on Streete. “Remie is another 20 year-old local lad and a 6’2” center-back and very well thought of on Tyneside. He had a short loan spell at Port Vale earlier this season, and got some rave reviews before Alan Pardew recalled him because of some injuries to our center-backs.”
“Been a top player coming through the ranks at Newcastle, and he will probably be sent out on loan in January – quite possibly a top player of the future.”
Matt Feltz, who writes for I wish I was a Geordie, added – “Streete is a center back who has hit a roadblock in his development. This article from the Newcastle Chronicle sums up his situation going into the season. He was on loan earlier in the season, but NUFC recalled him because of an injury crisis. He still hasn’t played, however.”
“Streete was involved in an incident last season where he gave away a penalty in a reserve team match, and the coach of the reserves apparently hit him afterward.” Wow.
Adam Campbell, striker/winger
19 years old, currently on loan with Hartlepool United. Began the season on loan with Fleetwood. Has made a total of six appearances this season while on loan & has yet to score. Made 12 appearances last season while on loan with St Mirren & scored two goals.
Harrison’s assessment, “Two years ago this 19 year-old local striker was a top Newcastle youngster but for some reason he has gone off the boil a little. He had a loan spell last season at St Mirren where he scored two goals in 12 appearances and a two game loan spell at the beginning of the season at Fleetwood Town.”
“Adam is 5′ 7″ tall and needs some first team games.”
“He was a prolific goal-scorer when younger and capped at the England U16,U17 and U19 levels.”
“He’s played five times for the Newcastle first team in the season before last.”
According to Bishop, “Campbell was on loan at Fleetwood Town and got almost no playing time. If they could assure minutes, I would think he’s a prime candidate to move.”
Feltz added, “He’s a young striker with plenty of accolades at youth level, but who seems to have stalled out at this point – a disturbing trend among NUFC academy players.”
“He made a handful of appearances in the Premier and Europa Leagues two seasons ago, but has been on loan since, most notably to St Mirren last year. In his cameos, he looked to be full of youthful energy, but not much of a physical presence (he’s only 5’7″), and the ball didn’t seem to come to him very often.”
Haris Vuckic, attacking midfielder
22 years old. Has not made a first team appearance this season. Last season he made 27 appearances while on loan with Rotherham. He scored four goals, had one assist, had 22 shots, twelve shots on target, committed 14 fouls, & was fouled ten times.
Harrison wrote, “We signed the once capped 22 year-old Slovenian International when he was 16 back in January, 2009, and he had enormous potential. But he has had a lot of injuries and hasn’t come through as much as Newcastle coaches had hoped for.”
“He hasn’t been part of the first team this season and needs a loan spell – he’s a skillful 6’1″ tall midfielder but doesn’t seem to like too much of the physical game.”
“He’s now 22 and has played 17 times with one goal for the Newcastle first team. Was out on loan at Rotherham United earlier this year – but started mostly on the bench.”
“Very skillful and talented technical player, but time is running out for him to make it at Newcastle.”
Bishop added, “Vuckic looked like he might get an extended look with the first team for a bit, and then he disappeared. I think he’s refused loans before. Pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to say no now, though.”
Feltz exclaimed, “Finally someone I have actually seen enough to properly evaluate!”
“Vuckic is a classic #10 type with a fantastic left foot. However, he also has some major flaws in his game.”
“First of all, he’s picked up injuries pretty regularly, which has certainly hindered his development. Even when he has been healthy, there have been questions about whether he can handle the pace of the Premier League, and for a big, strong kid, he doesn’t seem to be all that physical.”
“There is a very talented player in there somewhere, but no one’s been able to unlock it yet.”
Gael Bigirimana, defensive midfielder
21 years old. A refugee from Burundi, Bigirimana has only made one appearance for Newcastle in the last two seasons. In 2012-13, he made 25 appearances – he scored one goal, had eleven shots – seven of which were on target. He was fouled ten times, committed 15, & was booked four times with yellow cards.
Harrison: “We signed this lad two years ago from Coventry and he was very highly rated. Gael had a great first season with us on Tyneside playing 25 times for the first team with one goal. But he played just once last season and isn’t part of the first team squad this season – so for whatever reason he’s gone off the boil.”
“A good strong defensive midfielder and he played 28 times for the Coventry first team before joining Newcastle.”
Bishop: “Bigrimana should be playing with the first team. He’s a big name in England’s youth system but he has been frozen out by Pardew.”
Feltz: “For those of us concerned with Newcastle’s inability to develop its young players, Bigi’s lack of progress is Exhibit A.”
“He came to Newcastle as an 18-year-old who was already a first-team regular at Coventry City, and got off to a pretty fantastic start, notably in his Premier League debut against Aston Villa in September 2012.”
“He seems to have been miscast as a defensive midfielder, even though he’s actually got quite a good shot, as he demonstrated in his only goal a couple months later. Since then, he’s also struggled with injuries, and the club has lost faith in him for some inexplicable reason.”
“I actually wrote a post about this back in February.”
Kieran Dodds recently wrote a post for Coming Home Newcastle last month that blasts Pardew’s handling of Bigirimana.
Among the million and one reasons why Alan Pardew deserves the sack, surely, is his shoddy treatment of Newcastle’s young players.
It’s easy to forget just how promising Bigirimana’s career once appeared. He beat Palace’s Jonathan Williams (‘Joniesta’ to his fans) to the 2012 Championship Apprentice of the Year award while playing for a largely poor Coventry team, prompting the million-pound move to Newcastle. And at first he flourished, impressing in a handful of Europa League appearances and scoring with a stunning left-footed drive in a 3-0 victory over Wigan. (Matt Le Tissier, on co-commentary, deemed it ‘absolutely superb,’ and he should know.)
There then came starts against Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, and – in a Europa League quarter final – Benfica. In a sign of what was to come, Bigi actually started on the right-hand side in the latter match, and despite a respectable performance in an unfamiliar position, he was withdrawn at half time in favour of Shola Ameobi. And then… nothing – or, more precisely, zero Premier League appearances and one League Cup appearance in the entire 2013-14 season. Now languishing in the U21s, it’s a case of ‘bye-bye, Benfica’ and ‘hello, Blyth.’
What better summary of Pardew’s handling of the club’s youngsters than this? Time and time again, mismanagement is dressed up as opportunity. Only one solution remains available to us, comrades: PARDS OUT, BIGI IN.
Olivier Kemen, central midfielder
18 years old.
Harrison: “An 18 year-old French midfielder who we signed from Metz a year last summer, and he’s been capped at the French U17 level.”
“He’s done well since arriving and has played well for the Newcastle U21 and U18 sides and is highly rated at Newcastle.”
“Maybe too soon for a loan spell for this lad.”
Feltz: “Never seen him play, but he apparently came over from France with a pretty good reputation – enough to appear for the French under-18 team, anyway.”
“Probably best known at this point for being the only permanent signing in the summer 2013 transfer window. An article in the Shields Gazette from this summer lauded his progress, but he’s still not on the first-team radar yet, so a loan would probably suit him well.”
Sammy Ameobi, winger
22 years old. Has seen his minutes steadily increasing of late. He has made twelve appearances this season – six as a starter & six as a substitute. He has one goal & three assists; eleven shots with two being on target. He has committed 18 fouls while being fouled nine times & has been booked twice.
Campbell: “Sammy is now 22 and currently starting for Newcastle on the left wing and has played 12 times for Newcastle this season with one great goal at Tottenham, when he scored within 7 seconds of the kickoff for the second half.”
“I’d be very surprised if he is available for loan – and one area that’s been a weakness of his is his consistency, but he’s done very well so far this season – very gifted and skillful player and younger brother of Shola Ameobi.”
“His contract runs out next summer so he’s playing for his career at Newcastle at the moment.”
Feltz: “Of the players listed, he’s definitely the least likely to be loaned to Rangers, as he’s been making our starting eleven in recent weeks.”
“A somewhat polarizing player because his brother was a perennial disappointment in his painfully long career. But I’ve always liked Sammy. He’s quick, direct, has a good shot, and works extremely hard both offensively and defensively.”
“If he can stay healthy, he’s definitely capable of making the left wing spot his own this year, and I don’t see any reason why the club would send him elsewhere in search of playing time at the moment.”
Bishop: “I actually could see Sammy Ameobi heading out if Rolando Aarons comes back healthy. Had a successful spell at Middlesborough a couple years ago. He’s speedy and strong, with a real nose for the net.”
This is obviously an incomplete list & as names come up we will do our best to learn about what they might have to offer. However, even as Ally McCoist announced the possibility of Newcastle players moving north – there was some backlash from the English media questioning if Rangers would be a suitable destination for developing talent.
In January of this year, Newcastle United are set to loan Rangers some of their young and fringe players – the Mike Ashley connection being the obvious reason why there will be a tie-up.
How many remains to be seen, but more than one will go over the border.
Rangers need the players. Newcastle need them to get some proper game-time. Everyone should be happy.
I can see why this would be good for Rangers. They are in trouble on and off the park. Players may be sold next month to raise some much-needed funds, unless Ashley writes yet another cheque, and I think it’s fair to assume that these loan deals are not going to cost the earth, given who is involved.
Newcastle have some decent young players at their club who at this moment are not going to get a game, despite the rather large injury list.
I am a fan of players going out on loan. A few games with a side from the lower leagues, even the second tier of Scottish football, is in theory far better than training for matches that nobody watches.
But I have some reservations about Newcastle players going to Rangers at this time; reservations that may be misplaced, but are nonetheless justified.
Rangers are a basket case of a football club right now. It’s not as if the lads would be going to a well-oiled machine.
Those in England who have glanced even briefly at the bizarre goings-on at Ibrox in recent years are under the misconception that Rangers are certs to be back in the Scottish Premiership next season. Not so.
Richard Gough once said that a Rangers player wasn’t judged by his last game, but by his last pass. He said this when they could legitimately claim to be one of Britain biggest clubs. The same applies today even when things are very different.
If March comes along and Rangers are still in second place, or worse, take it from me when I say that the pressure on the players will be immense.
Now this could be the best thing to happen to Newcastle’s loaned-out lot. Come through that and they would emerge better players and people. That is surely what Alan Pardew wants.
But if they can’t hack it, and plenty don’t have it in them to deal with such craziness, it’s hardly going to do them a power of good.
Crowds are down at Ibrox. Playing in front of small attendances in a stadium built to hold 52,000 – there was 14,412 at Sunday’s cup game against Kilmarnock – is not easy.
You can hear every shout and they are not always complimentary.
Oh, and the football Rangers have served up this season has been for the most part dreadful. I almost forgot to mention that.
It’s going to be an experience for whoever is moved north. Whether it’s good, bad or a living nightmare remains to be seen.
But what must be said is that it’s a risk on the part of Newcastle, albeit a calculated one, to loan their players to a club so unsure of itself and its future.
Although there is an argument which says that if they get up there, do well enough, win the team promotion and also cope with life as a Rangers player in that city, then they will return in May more rounded professional footballers.
Or alternatively they could be left damaged by the whole experience.
Let’s hope it’s the former.
So, while some Rangers fans are decrying the club for taking on Newcastle’s leftovers – the flipside is that observers from south of the border have pinpointed a climate at Ibrox that may do more harm, than good for a developing player.
However, it is difficult to envision a scenario that does not include Newcastle players being loaned to Rangers.
Then it will be incumbent on whomever is managing the team to put those players in situations that will help both club & player.
Therein lies the ongoing dilemma that has faced Rangers for the past few years.
To keep track of all the goings on at Newcastle bookmark the following:
Ed Harrison’s The Newcastle United Blog