I think that every Rangers fan would have been extremely happy with 90% of the attacking football that was served up throughout the season. There were a few disappointing results and full credit to some of our opposition for scoring a few fantastic strikes against us that even Wes couldn’t stop.
But let’s take a look forward and here’s my possible team/squad for next season (without knowing the budget of course):
Wes Foderingham would deserve to start the season, unless we can sign a goalie taller & better, to dominate the cross balls, especially at free kicks & corners against us.
James Tavernier, our wonderful attacking English right back, really packs a great shot with an eye for goals. He is not a fabulous defender on occasion, but at 24 he still has a lot to learn to get even better.
Rob Kiernan has got better as the season has progressed and is another Englishman holding down a regular starting place. A centre half who at only 25 has the best years of his career still ahead of him.
Danny Wilson first played in the Rangers first team at only 17 and did not look out of place alongside David Weir. He did so well that Liverpool paid around £4M for his services, but at a young age he failed to become a first team regular. He signed for Hearts and ended up winning last year’s Championship as their Captain. It says a lot for him that he chose to join David Weir again at Rangers this year, when he could have easily just stayed and played in the Scottish Premiership with Hearts. I am not convinced it has worked out as well as they both would have wished, but at 24 he may come back stronger next year, or he will lose his place in the starting line up.
A very tall, aggressive, fast centre half who can pass (I am not asking for much), would absolutely be the answer to Rangers’ prayers.
Lee Wallace, our brilliant, loyal captain and a major contender for our “Player of the Year” award has also chipped in with a surprising amount of goals this season. He also proved to me that Gordon Strachan needs glasses or brains. How do you omit a fabulous, consistent left back from a weak Scotland team? One of the old men of the team at only 28.
Matt Crooks, our new January signing from Accrington Stanley, can play either as a centre half or as a holding defensive midfielder. Another English player willing to come and play in Scotland thanks to the success of our brilliant management team persuading them to buy into the new project. At only 22 he has a lot of first team experience.
Josh Windass comes very highly recommended as an attacking midfield player by Mark Warburton and that is good enough for me. The young Englishman is fast and can glide past the opposition with ease. I can’t wait to see him be a big success with us.
Andy Halliday, our very own local Rangers man, has impressed everyone with his talent, coupled with his aggression and total enthusiasm for the games.
Jason Holt, for only £65,000 was another bargain buy from Hearts. What a wonderful piece of business by the boss. An energetic, highly talented midfield player who makes things work for the team and is usually in the right place at the right time. You cannot teach that; he just has that ability.
Harry Forrester was another very shrewd signing who has turned into a star player already with his brand of football and goals contributing so much to winning the Championship. Another English player with experience at a higher level and it shows.
Martyn Waghorn, who was possibly favourite for the “Player of the Year” until his injury. The 26 year old English player accumulated a spectacular amount of goals and his overall contribution to the team should never be underestimated. I can’t help feel that Martyn could be turned into an international class midfield footballer if he was played as an attacking midfielder who would still score goals from that position. He is a very strong boy who possesses a bit of a dig and he can also see a pass when he gets the chance. I could really see him as a Paul Scholes-type of player. He is certainly not an international striker.
Barry McKay has been a revelation this term and forced his way into the Scotland under 21 team due to his success with Rangers this season. With the utterly useless Ally McCoist as manager, Barry could hardly get a game in the lower divisions, mainly due to pointless long high balls to nobody every game. Another contender for “Player of the Year, and still only 21. His first touch and dribbling skills coupled with his understanding with Lee Wallace are special.
Michael O’Halloran, signed from St Johnstone in January, has still to fully settle into the team. He has pace and he can play anywhere in the forward line. Just the type of signing the Magic Hat likes, and at 25 is the right age to develop into a top class Ibrox star.
Kenny Miller, the surprise success of the season. A revelation at 36 and producing some superb displays throughout the year, he has also chipped in with some great goals and assists. He is also helping to coach and influence the younger players in the squad and also with the under 20’s team.
The 14 above players would not embarrass Rangers, but if we buy 2 or 3 real quality experienced players who could walk into the team because of their talent, what a difference that would make.
I would also take 2 or 3 top quality loan deals with players capable of getting into the team next year, as Mark Warburton and David Weir have proven that they can be trusted to use these young players if they show they deserve to be first pick material.
Do we release the players whose contracts are up?
Nick Law (English) Midfield 28 (Probably release him)
Dean Shiels (N Ireland) Midfield 31 (Probably release him)
Nicky Clark (Scottish) Forward 25 in June (Probably exchange / release)
Fraser Aird (Canada) Def/Winger 21
Billy King (Scottish) Forward 22 (Probably back to Hearts)
Dominic Ball (Spurs?) (English) Def/Midfield 20 (extra year loan?)
Let’s not forget that we have some good young Academy boys still learning their trade and playing the same brand of football as the first team.
Ross McCrorie (Ayr united) – Centre Back – 18
Luca Gasparotto (Airdrie) – Centre Back – 22
Darren Ramsay (Arbroath) – Left Midfielder 21
Tom Walsh (Dumbarton) – Midfielder -19
Robbie Crawford (Alloa) – Midfielder 23
Ryan Hardie (Raith Rovers) – 6’ 2” Striker 19
Andy Murdoch (Queen of the South) – Midfielder 21
Jordan Thompson (Airdrie) N Ireland – Midfielder -19
Mekhi Leacock-McLeod (signed from Wolves in February) Right Winger – 19
Liam Burt – only 17 – Attacking player – recommended to be an excellent prospect
Jason Krones, Kyle Bradley, Kieran Wright, Aidan Wilson, Jamie Barjonas & Grant Nelson – young players, all signed to the Academy until 2018.
All in all the squad sits in a very healthy position, and just requires the mildest of tweaking to thrive in next year’s Premiership. How far it can go beyond that is another matter. We await with excitement.