At Rangers, winning is a requirement.
It’s quite straightforward. Failure to keep sight of domestic silverware will ultimately lead to my displacement.
i.e. I’ll get sacked if I bow to our rivals and fail to win a trophy.
Throughout the majority of this blogging series, the spotlight will be centered on those aspects within a save-game that orbit the results themselves. That being said – here’s a simple visual update, taken from the midway point of season one.
We’ve grown and matured tactically as the season has progressed, whilst our East-end rivals have struggled against some of the divisions weaker outfits. As you can see, Neil Lennon received his marching orders following a dismal run of form. However, I’m sure the hoards of Celtic fans were more than pleased to see his replacement. As am I to be honest. Rangers have some scores to settle, following the premature departure of Brendan Rodgers following his first term in Glasgow.
Arrived at Ibrox in 2015 for £200k during the Mark Warbuton era, which started in the Championship. Just look at him now!! Captain of Glasgow Rangers and fully transformed into a player with lavish footballing ability. Christ, we’ll miss him when he’s gone, and that time could very well be looming, as there’s considerable interest from teams in Ligue 1 and the Premier League.
At twenty-eight years old – could this be the ideal time to capitalise and cash in on our captain?
The idea behind these particular player instructions is to exploit the height [6ft. 2″], power and striking prowess of Florian Kamberi up-top. The precision and accuracy attributed to Borna’s left foot is deadly – with my concept being variety on both flanks. Barišić crosses from deep and more often which broadens our range of attacks, keeping the opposition thinking at all times.
Incidentally, the club have recently been successful in securing the signature of the Croatian International for an additional three years; raising his weekly wage by around £5k per week which, I may add, is terrific business and a huge relief to myself and everyone within the club.
The term selling club comes with negative connotations, but it doesn’t need to be seen as a negative.
Moving on from the sale of Señor Morelos to Borussia Dortmund – we focus our energies towards the full-back/wing-back strata within the squad.
First thing I like to do is assess the squad and look at where we are weakest in relation to both the starting eleven and backup options.
Both flanks currently have weak or unsuitable backup for the two full-back positions.
We already have a commitment to promote youth from within the academy structure.
OUT: Andy Halliday – Aberdeen [loan + part exchange]
OUT: Matt Polster – Kilmarnock [loan]
Andy Halliday, a life-long bluenose, had deputised at left-back when required during the reign of Steven Gerrard, however I’m not so keen to pursue this option going forward. Twenty-eight year old Halliday commands less than average ability for a player needed to provide necessary competition at left-back.
Matt Polster was brought to Glasgow in January 2019 following his release from Chicago Fire – mainly to supplement the squad and provide cover for captain, James Tavernier when called upon. I assume the small level of funding involved in the deal, accompanied by the American’s versatility were what persuaded Steven Gerrard to offer Matt a deal.
With both players now plying their trade elsewhere this season – we’ve freed the player pathway from the academy to the senior side.
PROMOTED: Nathan Patterson
PROMOTED: James Maxwell
– Graeme Murty – Reserve Manager
Nathan has all of the characteristics you would ascribe with an elite level full-back. There are plenty of promising talents in that squad like Kai Kennedy but Patterson is the one player I’d bet on making it. Just waiting on his body developing now.
Whilst perhaps not an immediate direct replacement for James Tavernier, if we look at Nathan’s attacking attributes, however, there’s more than enough to work with and develop in my eyes. With the departure of Matt Polster – Patterson has been thrust into the senior squad, even cementing himself as part of the starting eleven during Tavernier’s six week lay-off throughout the months of October and November. The young full-back has performed admirably, with Stoke City having already placed several meagre offers in the current January transfer window.
The demise of Scotland’s national team is well publicised, and so too is the current abundance of riches in the left-back/wing-back area of the pitch. Players like Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney available to give national boss, Steve Clarke an all-mighty selection headache. What about the right side, though? Perhaps not since Alan Hutton, has Scotland had someone they can truly look to and rely on at right-back.
That’s where Nathan Patterson fits into the narrative. If you’ve been paying attention to previous blog posts, you’ll have remembered that Alan Hutton’s £9 million move from Rangers to Tottenham Hotspur in 2008 was previously the clubs largest transfer fee received – at least until the club sold Alfredo Morelos to Borussia Dortmund during this here save-game.
It’s going to be one of my ambitions, to develop Nathan Patterson into a future Scotland International right-back and, development is well underway, as you can see in the set of images above.
A similar story with James Maxwell, although I’m not as convinced that James has the prescribed potential to make it at Rangers, but time is on his side. Regardless of potential ability, these players are assets to Rangers, therefor, it’s in the clubs best interest to maximize these assets – whether it be to the benefit of the first team, or indeed to the profit of the clubs coffers.
First of all we discussed the two players I was able to show the pathway into the senior side but, as I highlighted at the beginning of our journey, astute acquisitions will be required when necessary. The club will never break the bank and will commit its endeavours towards signing youth players to be nurtured and established here, at Rangers.
SIGNED: Finn Ecrepont – Ayr United [£80k]
SIGNED: Luke Matheson – Rochdale [£140k]
With Borna Barišić currently in the form of his life at left wing-back, it’s only natural that clubs with larger bank balances; not larger clubs [there is quite a difference] circle the wagons in pursuit of the Croatian’s signature. Consequently, it would be ill-advised for us to sit in wait, and that is precisely why we’ve pressed ahead in completing the signing of burgeoning Scottish left-back, Finn Ecrepont from Ayr United. Finn has some way to go in his development, but we’re pleased with his progress thus far.
Luke has literally just arrived at the club in the active January transfer window, so there’s not much for me to divulge at present and, I might do the player a disservice in doing so. What I will say with confidence is that, equal to Borna on the left side – James Tavernier is drawing serious interest for his swashbuckling performances on the right.
If James were to leave tomorrow – I would have no qualms whatsoever in launching Luke Matheson into the void created by a departing James Tavernier. The player will, like the others, be assigned to training at double intensity, with focus on mastering the complete wing-back role, which is performed so fantastically well by Tav.
Nevertheless, the club can never find itself in a position where both Tavernier and Barišić exit within the same moment in time. This would simply stand to imbalance our approach, knocking our tactic off kilter so, it cannot and will not happen. Assessing what we now have at our disposal – I’d be more inclined to accept offers for Tavernier in the immediate term, but let’s see.
I hope this gives you a vizualisation of the direction we’re heading in going forward.
PROMOTE – DEVELOP – WIN
I’ll be back in appropriate time to address further points of interest within the save-game. Perhaps the setup and how we utilise players in our approach to the game.
We’ll certainly examine more of the young academy graduates who’ve been given their crack at the first team during my short term as Rangers manager.