The Rules of Attraction

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Having secured the Third Division
title, as if it was in any doubt, Rangers are in a slight pickle. The club
wants to build for next season but there is a limbo state of peril whereby no
one at Ibrox has the slightest idea where this team will be playing next term.
With league reconstruction
threatened but not confirmed, it is entirely feasible that, should it take
place, Rangers will still be playing Stirling Albion in 2013/2014. On the other
hand it is possible that the powers-that-be may finally wake up to the vicious
financial hole Rangers’ absence from top-flight football has caused (look at Dunfermline’s descent into administration for hard proof,
along with Hearts’ near-collapse before a financial bail-out) and fast-track
the Govan club into a new-format top-flight. But do not hold your breath.
Chances are the South-Siders will
still be in whatever passes for Scottish football’s lowest tier next season,
regardless of what name it has. And this causes a major, major problem
regarding rebuilding the team.
The summer exodus seems to have
begun in earnest with Neil Alexander’s days at Ibrox starting to look
increasingly numbered:
            “Negotiations have
been going slowly. The club have made it clear they want me to stay. They’ve
offered me contracts but, with all the uncertainty over which division the club
will be in next year, we’re quite a bit away in terms of being able to agree a
contract, unfortunately.”
With the Scottish goalkeeper
already on a reputed £10,000 a year, the above smacks of his desire to be paid
more. And for a player of his limited ability in the third division this
appears a complete non-starter. Furthermore with the reported arrival of Kilmarnock’s Cammy Bell on a pre-contract for the
upcoming season, presumably on a more economically viable wage, Alexander may
just qualify as expensive dead wood.
However, Bell is an exception to
the very concern I have this summer – with Rangers looking like remaining on
the bottom rung and the attendances dwindling with reluctance to renew season tickets
plus the quite atrocious football on display not to mention supporter
disgruntlement at manager Ally McCoist, despite Rangers’ good global name and
history – the club is not an attractive prospect right now.
To any professional player who
aspires to improve themselves, Rangers in the non-glory third division would
not be an appealing destination. No Europe, no
Old Firm, and incredibly poor quality of football all-round.
To start with, a new defence is
needed – Cribari, Argyriou and Perry in particular have simply not been
anywhere near good enough. Wallace is the only high-quality defender Rangers
have, so a problem emerges. How do you attract players who will be good enough
for Rangers’ standards, but be able to play at such a low level week-in-week-out
and remain happy at that?
Not only that, but a leader is
desperately needed too. After years of having a David Weir, a Carlos Cuellar, a
Carlos Bocanegra – Rangers need someone of that ilk to organise the black line.
A major reason for the rest of the
team being increasingly poor this season is a complete lack of faith in the
defence to do their job, so the pressure on the middle is greater than it would
be. There is no trust from the midfielders that the defenders can defend.
And to resolve this McCoist will
have to be a heck of a lot more selective in the kind of defender he tries to
bring in. The fact is he will only be able to attract players via the club
name, and money. That is a troubling combination because the club name is
meaningless when it is in the bowels of Scottish football. And money? We have
no money – we cannot afford the wages we once could so shelling out thousands
to foreign dross cannot happen.
And before anyone points it out –
all these players require to be free agents. With the embargo still in place
Rangers cannot purchase any player currently in a contract. This makes it
near-enough impossible to get the right player in.
So, a new defence, attracted via
the name of Rangers, inexpensive wages, and free agents.
This will not be easy.