Rangers’ Summer Rebuild Starts Here

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“Summer rebuild” is a
buzzphrase in football these days. With the advent of the transfer window in
2002 clubs use the summer months from June to August to invest in new players,
an action especially pertinent if their current squad underachieved the previous
season. The ‘rebuild’ is the idea that the squad simply lacks the necessary
clout to do that club justice and is not of “xxx club standard”, and
therefore something of an overhaul is required to cultivate a team worthy of
the club’s name.
This was never more the case with
Rangers, and despite the Ibrox men winning the Third Division comfortably, the
scarcity of quality action on the pitch supports the notion that regardless of
securing the championship, this team is some way below the standards required,
even at this level. The disclaimer is of course that despite only facing
Montrose, Rangers supporters expect a higher quality of player to adorn their colours
and the argument being made by many is that the current crop do not fulfil this
criteria.
Indeed, the majority of
supporters favour 5 players as good enough for next season, with the rest of
the squad being dismissed as either average or downright poor.
The players merited with a higher
calibre of ability are Northern
Ireland’s goal-getting Andrew Little,
Scottish international left-back Lee Wallace, promising forward Barrie McKay
(whose extended absences from the first team last season mystified many),
classy midfielder Lewis MacLeod and the inconsistent but potentially superb
winger David Templeton.
The players regarded as ‘maybes’
and viewed as possible squad depth-material are Christopher Hegarty, Dean
Shiels and Fraser Aird.
Those who are not up to scratch
include more or less the rest of the squad, including the expensive seniors
whose wages are unjustifiable.
So how does a club, struck down
by an illegal transfer embargo, negotiate this significant shortfall in squad
depth and quality? As Ally McCoist put it during the title party on Saturday,
this club is limited to bosmans; in other words free transfers. Rangers cannot
buy any players out of their current contract – they must be free agents.
As such a number of names have
been strongly linked with many confirming their personal interest in joining
the light blues:
Kilmarnock
keeper Cammy Bell seems a likely replacement for Neil Alexander who looks to be
departing, suggesting he is unhappy with the offer Rangers have made him
(paraphrased):
            “They offered me 65% of my current wage
for a year, so it’s something I have to think about.”
Bell is understood to have signed or agreed a
pre-contract for next season and will not cost as much as the apparent £6500
per week wage Alexander has been offered.
Former striker and permanent cult
figure Nacho Novo has been heavily linked with a return to Ibrox, with the
diminuitive striker (currently plying his trade in Spain’s second division with Sociedad
Deportiva Huesca) vocally calling to McCoist to make him an offer. Speaking
after the Legends match V Manchester United, Novo said:
            “I miss Rangers a lot. Obviously I love
this club and would like to come back. It’s my home, really. For family
reasons, it’s actually harder for me to stay in Spain.”
If an acceptable wage can be
agreed, Novo would not be the worst partner for Little up front. Little and
Large, with Little being large.
Motherwell’s Tom Hateley is also
on the Ibrox radar, with Rangers in desperate need of a high-quality right-back
after the dismal failure of either Hegarty or the first-choice Anestis Argyriou
to perform acceptably there. Although nothing has been publicly quoted from any
parties, his father Mark’s association with the club suggests that a transfer
could be on the cards.
Other Motherwell first-team
members have been linked, notably Nicky Law who has confirmed his own interest
(in as non-committal a manner as possible):
            “Rangers are a massive club, whatever
division they’re in. It’s always flattering to have your name linked with these
huge clubs but that’s all it is, just flattery. Whether it’s Rangers or any
other club, if there’s interest you’d consider any offers.”
His potential new manager
confirmed the situation was being monitored:
            “Nicky is another player whose contract
situation we are aware of as well. Again, he is one of a number of players we
are looking at.”
Another defender is Middlesbrough’s Andre Bikey, and is a player McCoist has also
confirmed interest in:
            “Bikey is a player that we are
interested in and have been interested in once or twice, certainly last year.
He is a player we have been monitoring as well. I’m not sure if he’s got a
different situation with his contract but he is certainly a player that we have
been watching regularly.”
And one of the most notable names
Rangers’ have been heavily linked to is Dundee United’s Jon Daly. When pressed
on the Arab striker, McCoist added carefully:
            “Jon is one of a number of players we
are looking at and are interested in. There has been contact between the two
clubs and there has been contact between club and agent but there is nothing
more concrete to tell on that one.”
As potentially the first-ever Republic of Ireland Catholic to play for Rangers,
Daly was non-plussed by the significance:
            “It always stuck in my mind that, even
though his team had lost and I’d scored one of the goals that beat them at
Tannadice, Ally had stayed behind in the tunnel and shook the hand of every
United player after the match. That made a big impression on me and increased
my respect for Ally. I was told about
the historic aspect to this move, if it happens, and I was surprised. But it
doesn’t bother me
. I’ve spoken to my family about Rangers’ interest in me
and there are no issues there for them to deal with so far as I’m concerned.
Rangers have spoken to Dundee United and my
agent has spoken to Ally. When I had my conversation with the manager it was
purely about football and where he saw me playing. It had nothing to do with
financial terms.”
Clearly not a gent who allows
off-field history to affect his decisions.
Whether Rangers clear out the
likes of Cribari, Argyrious, Black and Hutton who have been by-and-large below
the standards expected at Ibrox, new signings must certainly be made. While the
Second Division (assuming promotion is indeed granted) is not a massive leap
over the Third, it is still a step up and squad improvements are critical.
The current team is just not good
enough and the names linked with  the
squad to offer a distinct blanket of comfort for those desiring better football
at Ibrox next season.
This summer requires
reinforcements and, in truth, something of an overhaul. Here is hoping it
happens.