Hummel Training Centre
Craig Mulholland – Head of Youth Development
We were recently audited by top European club auditors, Double Pass.
We scored 88% which was the highest score in this country and comparable with some of Europe’s top academies.
During the first couple of seasons we will mostly look to field a starting eleven comprising our strongest available players – looking to phase out the high earning fringe players, thus making a clearer pathway for our academy starlets.
In current real world football affairs – Chelsea have recently promoted a large number of academy graduates to their first team following a FIFA imposed transfer ban; even including as many as ten youth players in the matchday squad for a thumping 7-1 Carabao Cup victory over Grimsby Town.
Frank Lampard – Chelsea Manager
We had a meeting with Neil Bath (head of youth development) and the Academy staff because I think it’s important the club is joined up.
It doesn’t mean young players are going to start every week, but there must be a connection. When they work for hours and hours with these young players and invest time, it’s nice for them to see.
When I sit here and Tammy’s scoring and it makes me happy, we should also praise Neil Bath, Jim Fraser (assistant head of youth development) and all the Academy staff.
Granted, we don’t have such an embargo placed upon us, but it’s further evidence to support the use of talented academy players, thus giving credence to the whole internal development process.
The route into the first team must be visible for our young proteges so, bringing in loans from other clubs simply won’t be happening after season one.
Loaning out our own developing players will only happen if it’s the right fit. We will not be sending out our gems to clubs in divisions lower than the Championship in Scotland [second tier]. If the option is available – we will look to send them down to England where the standard is of a higher level.
An age-old problem in Scotland sees clubs produce exciting talent at a young age, but when these players reach the age of nineteen/twenty their development almost always begins to stagnate.
This is another reason that brings me to Scotland for FM20.
I want to change this attitude and culture going forward.
In order to create a winning formula at Rangers we need to build a strategy; a culture; a project for success, not only on the field, but in all departments within this footballing institution.
Let’s think about it…
Ajax received £11.4m for television and £14m from commercial deals in 2018.
The Eredivisie isn’t one of the top leagues in Europe, however, they have a successful business and football model that’s been honed over time and is the envy of the world.
The Dutch club have high ambitions, so they need to think differently and be smarter than the rest.
What about here in Glasgow?
Well, Rangers has pretty much everything that’s required when it comes to stature, facilities and club fabric.
- 50,000 all-seater Ibrox Stadium [owned by the club]
- State-of-the-art training complex [owned by the club]
- Huge worldwide fan-base
- Top Youth Academy in Scotland and one of the best in Europe.
- Massive local rivalry
- European football
The package is all there.
What we need to focus on is developing our own players – allowing them to mature and shine in our first team whilst helping us to achieve our aims of winning domestic silverware on a yearly basis and ultimately making it to the UEFA Champions League cash pot where, like Ajax, we can earn a small but much needed slice of the television revenue pie.
As I said before – the tricky part will be creating the balance between fielding a side capable of competing whilst giving enough minutes to our academy players in order to advance their development.
The football food chain also benefits from this approach, as those players who perhaps develop with us but reach their glass ceiling and don’t make it at Rangers – can be sold on to other Scottish clubs – making the league stronger in turn.
By making the division stronger – we would hopefully be enhancing the International pool of players available to the Scotland manager.
Season 2018/19 proved to be a pivotal one for all age groups within the club.
The main source of interest comes from the Reserve and U18 sides, with both having recorded impressive campaigns at home and Internationally – with the Under-18s having clinched a domestic league and cup double whilst the Reserves brought the league trophy back to Ibrox.
Perhaps most impressive, though, was the Alkass International Cup victory for the U18’s, as David McCallum’s young charges joined an illustrious list of European clubs to have claimed the trophy.
Rangers’ attacking midfielder Kai Kennedy secured the coveted player of the tournament award, however, it was the mercurial performances of ex-Chelsea youngster, Nathan Young-Coombes who really caught the eye.
Success at this level is evidence indeed to support the notion that we have a supply of talent coming through the ranks at Rangers.
There’s much to be enthused about and, with the right blend of training and game time we should be capable of nurturing some of these young talents into first team regulars.
Sure, certain players have already been identified for stardom, but the aim will be to develop each and every player in their own individual way.
This trio of gifted youngsters will most certainly be eased through their development as we steadily steer them towards more definitive roles and positions as they mature, and there’s many more just like them, within the academy structure at the club.
Admittedly it could potentially be a few years before we begin to see the likes of Young-Coombes and Lowry making the first team squad, still, we currently have several exciting young prospects, off earning their stripes at loan clubs across the length and breadth of the British Isles.
It’s these players who, I feel – can have an immediate impact upon returning to Glasgow.
Rest assured – I’ll focus more specifically on individual players as they make their way within the game.
Mega thanks to everyone for all the support following the release of the first installment of the series.
Catch you soon.