written by: Cameron Scrimgeour
As press speculation grows over who will be the next permanent manager of Rangers, several candidates have been highlighted by the media, with bookies odds on favourites changing by the day.
Within moments of the news breaking that Ally McCoist had tendered his resignation, names such as Stuart McCall, Terry Butcher and Billy Davies were already being touted as likely replacements.
But is there one name being overlooked?
Rangers currently employ a man who has experience, albeit limited, of managing in the lower leagues, knows the structure and problems faced at the club and most importantly knows more about the current batch of young players knocking on the first team’s door than Ally McCoist does.
That man is Gordon Durie.
There is no doubt that the appointment of Gordon Durie would probably not satisfy the desire amongst the majority of fans for wholesale change in the management and coaching of the team, but it could offer a chance for the hungry young players at Murray Park to get a much deserved opportunity in the first team.
This has been a frequent request from fans since we started life in the old Third Division and even more so during the last three months of Rangers League One campaign. With the title wrapped up with games to spare, McCoist sadly thought chasing an unbeaten record was more worthwhile than giving boys like Charlie Telfer and Luca Gasparotto a decent chance to impress.
Durie has been the manager of the Development/Reserve side since July 2013 and has done an impressive job thus far. The side were invited into the SPFL Under 20s League for the 2013-14 season while the first team were still in League One. They would now be playing against the development/reserve teams from all of the full time clubs in Scotland instead of the previous season where they took on sides such as Annan & Peterhead.
So did the team struggle with the step up in opposition? Not at all. Durie guided the side to an impressive second place finish in the league table, one point behind eventual champions Celtic. More impressive was the fact that Durie’s young side scored more goals than Celtic and lost fewer games over the course of the season than anyone else.
The season ended with silverware for the young side as they won the Scottish Youth Cup for the first time since 2008. After drawing 2-2 with an impressive Hearts side, then managed by current first team coach Robbie Neilson, the game was settled in dramatic shootout with Rangers goalkeeper Liam Kelly scoring and then saving the decisive penalty.
This was a team containing the likes of Luca Gasparotto, Danny Stoney, Andy Murdoch, Calum Gallagher and Charlie Telfer. They are all players who could and should have been given an opportunity in Ally McCoist’s first team.
My point is that Gordon Durie knows what these players can offer and, I expect, would give them a chance to shine in place of what seems like guaranteed first picks, regardless of form or fitness, such as Nicky Law, Lee McCulloch and Ian Black.
This season has been more of a struggle for Durie and his side. With a squad depleted by talent being sent out on loan to other clubs, they sit in 10th position out of 17 having played 12 games.
Perhaps not the disaster it may look at first glance considering Motherwell, Dundee United and Hearts are all in similar positions with more games played.
Durie has also dipped his toe in first team management in the past. Before he took his on his role at Rangers, he took on the top job at East Fife after working under John Robertson as his assistant before his sacking in March 2011.
The club was in a dangerous situation, sitting in the bottom half of the old Second Division with relegation a real possibility. Durie took over with eight games left of the season. He managed to win four and draw one, taking the team to sixth in the league, only four points off a playoff position.
The following one was an unhappy one for Durie. The promise shown by the side did not continue and he stepped down after suffering from ill health.
There is no doubt that Gordon Durie may not be the most glamorous name in the running for the Rangers job but he may be a very shrewd option.
Terry Butcher and Stuart McCall may have more years of management experience than Durie but neither has a C.V. that put him to shame. Butcher won a grand total of 20 matches from a combined 75 in spells at Sydney FC, Brentford and Hibernian. McCall won just over a third of his 133 games while in charge of Bradford.
The other main candidate for the job is Billy Davies. He has a much better track record in club management but his past experiences at badly run clubs and the amount of money he would demand may put the club off pursuing him. Durie, to my knowledge, has had no public issues with the current Rangers board and would be on a fraction of the salary others would ask for.
Durie offers a potential short term solution but one which could allow the much underused Murray Park prospects a chance to take centre stage, much in the same way that the young Hearts team came together over the last year. Also, with several first team players running into the last 6 months of their well paid contracts, these young men may prove to be cost effective replacements.
Last year we signed Steve Simonsen and Bilel Mohsni. Would it really have been a worse idea to give Liam Kelly and Luca Gasparotto their chance? How many more kids like Charlie Telfer, Andrew Shinnie and Ross McCormack are we going to let slip through the net.
I’m not saying these players will all turn out to be superstars, but they should at least be given an opportunity. Gordon Durie may be the man best placed to give it to them.
You can follow Cameron Scrimgeour on Twitter @camroncamron86