Scouts from England & elsewhere are going to swarm to Ibrox over the next several weeks like vultures looking to pick the financial caracas of Rangers clean in the January transfer window.
Teams are going to lineup with offers that may be seen as insulting by supporters & they will likely be accepted by a team desperate for some capital.
Players who have garnered interest in the past, like Lee Wallace & Nicky Law could be shipped out. If teams from Tunisia do inquire about Bilel Mohsni it won’t take long for Rangers to agree to a deal. Heck, if Aberdeen, Dundee United or even Nîmes Olympique want to rekindle their interest in Kris Boyd – have at it – at a discount price. Of course, it’s doubtful that those teams will want to pony up the salary that Boyd currently enjoys but you get the point. Rangers need money, Derek Llambias is cutting costs, frivolous & not-so frivolous, & the players will be next on the chopping block.
Of course, any plan moving forward for Rangers should include Lewis Macleod. He appears to be a special talent, a player you would like to build your team around & thrust into a leadership position at a early age. However, given the current context of Rangers Football Club – you may have to prepare for the departure of the club’s finest homegrown talent since Barry Ferguson. With teams like Aston Villa, Everton, & Newcastle United ready to prepare offers beginning at £2 million, we may be seeing the final days of Macleod starring for Rangers.
This is a disturbing reality…but as a club there needs to be a plan put in place to win back supporters while creating a new model for the club going forward. Basically, Rangers need to begin again…again. The logical plan that so many wanted back in 2012-13, needs to be put in place with a concrete structure behind it.
It may call for a couple of ugly years for Rangers, but at this rate a transparent plan needs to be implemented in order to give the club & it’s fans hope that glory will return to Ibrox again.
So, here’s one attempt at such a plan…
Let’s begin by taking the more than £800,000 ‘budgeted’ for Ally McCoist & put it toward a Director of Football & head coach tandem. A Director of Football is a top priority – Mark Wotte has been mentioned & even if it isn’t him, the DOF should be someone who has plenty of managerial experience & is willing to mentor a coach while instilling a whole new philosophy to a club living off the fumes of the halcyon days of the past.
So many scoffed (including myself) when Jonny McFarlane mentioned Craig Levein in a post last year as a potential candidate to consider if Ally McCoist was ever fired. Assumptions were made & Levein has proved them wrong with the direction he has installed at Hearts. It’s a model that Rangers should follow.
Now the biggest decision comes down to who is hired as a head coach. This is where the philosophical shift is critical. Rangers don’t need a manager, they need a coach. Let the Director of Football set up the infrastructure for a scouting system & to manage the budget for the playing squad. Let the coach…coach.
Rangers coach needs to have experience developing young players & must have the capacity to help a youngster evolve into a refined professional. Two names that leap out are Ian Cathro & Scot Gemmill.
Cathro is an ideal, balls on the table kind of hire. A two-fingered salute to the naysayers who heckle Rangers from afar. Gemmill, currently coaching Scotlands U17s, has a history with Wotte & whose potential has been likened to Derek McInnes & Jackie McNamara.
The obvious problem with both Cathro or Gemmill is that they have absolutely no managerial experience & you can not throw a novice into the hotseat that is being Rangers manager. I mean look at what happened to McCoist…what’s that you say? Graeme Souness? Walter Smith? Chalk & cheese.
This is where my plan falls into place. Whoever is hired as Director of Football should be set up with a two year obligation to also function as the first team manager. Meanwhile, if you could nail down a Cathro or a Gemmill they should be charged with coaching the U20 team for two years. Part of both contracts would be a stipulation that the Director of Football would hand leadership of the first team to the coach at the end of those two years & the more traditional Director of Football/Head Coach roles would take hold.
In this scenario, the Director of Football would put in place his footballing philosophy, establishing a system that relies on a mix of youth & some select veterans. He would implement his vision of what the Rangers Way will become. Winning would be a priority but it would not trump the long-term plans of what the Director of Football wants to put in place.
Meanwhile, the coach would have two years with the U20s to develop talent & learn the nuances of matchday management. He could also be mentored by the Director of Football as a fluidity between the first team & the U20s is created.
You would finally give young players at Rangers a sense of purpose & tangible feeling of hope that they could be part of the future success for the storied club. Especially if they know that their U20 coach is already been established at the first team coach of the future.
It would be the ultimate rebuttal to Stephen Thompson & his statements following the Charlie Telfer decision. Guess what? All a young player wants is an opportunity to play. If Rangers could offer that, I think each & every one of them would choose Rangers over Dundee United each & every day of the week. Now it is incumbent on Rangers to create an authentic pathway for young players to succeed at the club.
Ray Ferraro, a former NHL player, once said – “The Detroit Red Wings probably spend about seven dollars on the offices. They put all the money into scouting & development. I played in Atlanta and man, we had great offices. Our team stunk.” In case you don’t follow hockey, Detroit is the model franchise that teams like the Los Angeles Kings & Chicago Blackhawks emulated to win four of the last five championships. Atlanta no longer has a team…
It maybe wishful thinking but maybe this is what Derek Llambias is trying to implement for Rangers. A more cost effective system that still spends money, but spends it on what makes the club better on the pitch. One can hope…
Cut the frivolous expenditures & invest in coaching & scouting staffs they can identify & develop talent. Part of these staffs should include advanced stats/analytics experts who could bring a competitive edge to Rangers in a Scottish football scene that is embarrassingly archaic when it comes to using analytics to improve a team. Have a team that can use advanced stats to identify strengths & weakness in performances while developing a system to identify players who have a value to a team that is not always obvious to the ‘eye-test.’ The Rangers Report plans to bring more insight on advanced stats & what they can offer Rangers in a future post.
Back to spending….all those contracts expiring after this season – good riddance. Only Darren McGregor & Luca Gasparotto should be considered as potential re- signings. Let the others & their inflated salaries go. Start over with a core set of players & begin infusing youngsters into the set-up. No more wasted money…no more signing players like Marius Zaliukas, Lee Robinson, Steve Simonsen, Steven Smith, & Kenny Miller on the auspice of providing depth. Gasparotto can provide depth. Liam Kelly can provide depth. Ryan Sinnamon can provide depth. Ryan Hardie can provide depth.
The bottom line is that the club needs to restore its relationship with the supporters. The same people that sold-out matches against Montrose & Peterhead want the best for the club. But fans are fed up. Fed up with the board, the manager, & the players. Those dwindling crowds are hurting the bottom line, but fans are well within their rights to send the message that ‘this is not good enough’. We are the people & there are certain standards expected that other clubs do not have.
If you want to win the fans back, actions will speak louder than words & more then of the same (Stuart McCall/Terry Butcher) won’t bring fans back. A whole new shift in philosophy is needed.
Of course all of this requires stability, foresight & patience from a board that has shown no capacity to lead whatsoever. Therein lies the ongoing messy cycle that is Rangers Football Club. It’s time to end that cycle.