Was Ally wrong to abandon youth?


The biggest squad dilemma Ally
McCoist had in early summer of 2012 following the exodus was thus:
Rely on youth players already at
the Club around which to build a team for long term and the future.
Sign in SPL-quality players to
‘guarantee’ swift promotion through the lower tiers of Scottish football and a
return to the summit as soon as possible.
McCoist is regularly castigated
for choosing the latter, for not initiating a plan for developing the cream of
the young crop at Ibrox, thereby building a team for the future who would have
grown together, matured together, and by the time Rangers were firmly
established back in the top flight the team would be an excellent close-knit
group of players who could read each others’ games.
Many point to two examples of the
success of doing this; Beckham’s United and Xavi’s Barcelona.
The class of ’94 at Old Trafford
basically saw a core of young players, famously castigated by Alan Hansen,
prioritised by Sir Alex, who went onto win the league. They were endowed with
Giggs, Scholes, Beckham, Butt, and the Neville brothers, to name 6.
Meanwhile over at the Camp Nou
the majority of the players which have developed an amazing dynasty (only now
starting to unravel) for the Catalonians were youth players, the likes of Xavi,
Iniesta, Pedro, Busquets, Puyol, and of course Messi.
However, there are examples where
a crop of young players does not make the grade – Liverpool this season are a
classic example, where manager Brendan Rodgers decided to go for young players (admittedly via signing them from other clubs) with
potential, such as Lallana, Allen, Markovic, Alberto, Coutinho, Balotelli et
al, and the team could not have performed less, despite the quality these
players appeared capable of at their previous clubs.
So, we have the dilemma again –
youth, or SPL quality?
Fact is when Rangers found
themselves in Div 3, fans were heartbroken at the entire first-team squad
leaving, and it is easy to say in hindsight ‘we should have built for the
future’ but it is only too vivid to recall how relieved supporters were when
guys like Ian Black, David Templeton, and Francisco Sandaza were joining. Sure,
they were hardly Xavi and Iniesta but given the standard the Club were now
playing at, these players were welcomed like heroes.
Furthermore, fans rejoiced as
washed-out guys like Lee McCulloch and Neil Alexander remained, and not exactly
a spring-chicken Lee Wallace chose to stay on too.
Now we look back in hindsight and
complain that we did not put together a youth setup and build a team for the
future. But how could we know we would get a Barcelona
or a Man Utd as opposed to the shambles Liverpool
have ended up with.
Furthermore, a Utd or Barca is a rare gift indeed – to have a crop of top class youth at once is a once-in-a-lifetime privilege, even a good group is hardly regular. By having a group of young players does not automatically make them the salvation of the Club.
The problem with this nostalgia
trip is it is based heavily on mental constructs of how good these youth
players Rangers had actually were/are. In our minds we can see an incredible
young team of promise, slickly passing the ball back and forth, reading each
others’ intents and producing wonderful football. But in reality, to the naked
eye, the only two players who really impressed that did not get a prolonged
chance were Kyle McAusland & Barrie McKay.
All the rest were completely
underwhelming in their brief forays to the first team; players like Robbie
Crawford, Charlie Telfer, Scott Gallacher, Luca Gasparotto, Andrew Mitchell,
Chris Hegarty, Darren Cole, Kyle Hutton, Ross Perry and so on and so forth.
Calum Gallagher was very impressive on his first full start but went quiet very
quickly thereafter.
It is easy to look back and say
‘these players should have been given a chance’ – but the problem is most of
them truly were, and just did not make the grade.
Now, I am not condoning McCoist’s
abandonment of youth, nor do I strictly agree with him that youth players would
not have won the third division; but I do give him a rare piece of backing that
fans ached for decent quality at Ibrox, and if McCoist just simply had not
signed anyone, and used youth, then the squad would have been inexperienced and
threadbare. Had it then failed to win the third division he would have received
criticism from every angle for not signing new players and failing to realise
these youth products were not good enough.
McCoist had to make a choice. Go
with youth, which was a huge gamble, or sign experience and quality who would
guarantee League 1 football the following year.
He chose the latter, and when you
look at how poor some clubs have become for relying on youth, his choice is
almost understandable.


  1. A decent coach with a decent scouting system would have found a blend of both experienced AND young players. Both English and Scottish Championships are awash with solid players, players who would accept wages considerably lower than the dross we have at the moment. A team with say, 2/3s older players mixed with 1/3 less experienced ones theoretically would have strolled through the Leagues, gradually introducing more youth along the way.
    Sure the priority was to get back to the Premier asap, but we could be stalling as the legs are going from our older guys. They should have been let go and 2 or 3 fresher faces brought in. The old pals act is being found out.
    McCoist knows the games up, I don't think he's stupid. He's managed to get by by having multiple other coaches helping, not to mention huge resources including fantastic training facilities, a huge squad of players, and an amazingly loyal support home and away. All this with enormous wages for him, his fellow coaches, and, the players under his charge. With all this behind the team, we should have been holding our own in the English Premiership, not being beaten by the likes of Stirling Albion (no disrespect), with the resources they had at the time.
    As we all know, the past few years have been littered with such defeats but it was clearly evident back then that McCoist was simply not a coach.
    Fast forward 2 and 1/2 years and we find ourselves with a broken Club. Fans against fans, different boardroom agendas, the SFA having another go at us, and a clueless Manager playing politics rather than trying to get a winning team on the park.
    What happens next?
    I do know one thing, the tims will be having a good laugh at us.
    The game against them in the New Year could our biggest ever.

  2. No because he dindnt ! he gave plenty the chance but on Mac took it ( Aird is not good enough ) ! i am damned if he should play kids just because they are there ? .If you look at some of the BRILLIANT ?? results the youth team has had ?……………not good enough ! .

  3. A decent article, but it's quite a skewed opinion — as many others have noted there IS room to have old-timers taking the team up the leagues, AND bringing youngsters into the team too.

    As for Scott Gallacher being lumped in with those that were "completely underwhelming" ??!!
    Sorry — you're quite wrong.
    And putting Telfer in there too is maybe a bit ironic, seeing as he's played six games for DU at a higher level than when at Rangers, being on the winning side every time.

    Balance — experience AND youth — would have seen us better on the park.

    What might have been, in terms of player development, over the past few years???

    The sad fact is that Ally and his coaching staff were inherited, in fact recruited by Walter Smith. Walter took a very poor team and progressed them to a reasonable standard, good enough to win in Scotland and achieve a Uefa cup final spot. Funds were available to him and he had a motivational aura that players responded to. That is where the plaudits end for Walter. His tactical awareness was mediocre, player development limited.

    From that point onwards recruitment and development of young players deteriorated. McCoist relied on McDowall and Durrant to coach? How could these two individuals progress the young talent at the club?

    McDowall was recruited by Smith to move the cones around at training and Durrant was his wee pal from way back? What a recipe for disaster? That was a major flaw in the ethos of the novice manager.

    The sad aspect of this situation is that these deluded individuals actually believe that they are of some worth to the club. Gentlemen, accept that you were hired through the 'old mates' recruitment agency. Certainly not on merit! Please appreciate that you have over achieved, been fortunate to have made a considerable amount of money (too much) and go gracefully!

    Please reflect on your contribution. An honest appraisal can only result in one conclusion: got lucky, made a few quid, games up, goodbye.

  5. In Ally McCoists first season, he was forced into bringing players into the first team due to the fact he had no experienced players to choose. He also brought in as mentioned players like Ian Black, David Templeton and Fransico Sandaza as well as Kevin Kyle. He also had Andy Little, Kyle Hutton who had had some experience in forst team football.
    After a rocky start, we began to domminate the 2nd Division and winning it.
    That was all we would have expected Ally to do with the club and he was successfull. In that time he brought in various young players, maybe some would never ever have graced a Rangers first team, but there were certainly glimmers of expectation in the obvious Lewis MacLeod, Fraser Aird and Barry MaKay. Most fans I chat with also say what did Kyle McAusland, Robbie Crawford and Scott Gallagher do wrong? I also don't understand why Andy Murdoch doesn't get a shout as every time he has been on the park he is outstanding.
    Now my point is, last season in the 1st Division, we saw less and less of those young lads, in fact Luca Gasporotto, with Barry MacKay just a few minutes didn't get one game and it was similar to many young boys, with the exception late on in the season for Calum Gallagher.
    Had McCoist continuied last season, even from the turn of the year re-introducing these ypoung lads into the side, we would have the option to 'jazz' up the side, maybe put a bit of pace into it, but seven young lads have been loaned out and others have been released to bring in cronies. Boyd, Miller (to a lesser extent), McCulloch, Moshni, Smith, Foster have been taking up a huge amount of salary and have contributed very little to the team this season, whereas if Ally had kept the likes of MacKay, Gallagher, Crawford and McAusland I am sure we would not have lost or drawn with Alloa and some of the performances like Cowdenbrath at Ibrox amongst others would have turned out different.
    My final point is, we have loaned out seven youngsters to lesser sides (although that point is debatable on its own) and in some cases lower division sides. How are they to be expected to raise their game next season, if we are to get promotion to the Premier League?

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