The curious case of Billy King

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On the 28th of January, an extremely puzzling transfer was concluded, following a literal 24-hour period of initial breaking news before it was sown up.

Hearts U21 Scottish international winger Billy King was to switch Gorgie for Ibrox in arguably Mark Warburton’s most confusing signing to date, when the young attacker was confirmed on a four-month loan deal.

To say Rangers’ support was perplexed is putting it mildly; not only was this a deal out of the blue, but it was completely unnecessary as well. At the time Rangers already had David Templeton, Harry Forrester, Barrie McKay and Michael O’Halloran to name just four for the wing, plus Martyn Waghorn’s frequent visits to the flank.

Obviously the first reaction was amusement at the young chap’s name, which is self-explanatory and I will not go there, but it certainly endeared him to fans before he even kicked a ball in anger. But it was followed thereafter with a lot of head-scratching and general bewilderment as to why Rangers had taken him on.

Hearts’ boss Robbie Neilson had said it was about getting him game time, and the forward confirmed he had indeed requested the loan, so the question is, really: what was in this for Rangers?

Even Warburton’s praise following that winning goal against Falkirk had an strange undertone of criticism, implying King basically failed to listen to a word he had been told of the system and his own role by his manager before going on:

“Billy did well. I looked up looking for our wide right player but he wasn’t there. Billy doesn’t know how we shape up but all credit to him, it was great timing of the run, and a good finish.”

And then four months later, after fleeting and thoroughly underwhelming appearances, King was gone; no fanfare, no confirmation of his exit (admittedly the same applies to fellow loanees Dominic Ball and Gedion Zelalem) and generally no discussion at all about him.

Just why did Mark Warburton consent to this loan? Winger is, and was, one position Rangers were arguably overstocked with already – why take another? This loan was pushed forth, it seems, by King himself, and Warburton accepted it.

By no means is this entry intending to slate anyone involved – King did his best, but it just did not do enough to impress, and Warburton could arguably be praised for doing a favour for both Hearts and the player himself.

But Rangers are not a charity, and Billy King will definitely go down as one of the more unnecessary and bizarre signings of recent times.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Don't agree with article at all, Billy king was signed 2 days before o'hallaron so it could have that the magic hat didn't think we were signing o'hallaron so sanctioned kings signing, now if you remember & the print doesn't tell lies but king in the beginning was starting more games than o'hallaron & I remember my son asking why this was happening & contrary to your article I told my son that king actually understood what the magic hat wanted were as o'hallaron was struggling with it

  2. Billy was a great signing and it was a "ton of fun" to see him in a Gers' jersey 🙂 . He scored that great goal in the last minute against Falkirk, winning 3 valuable points in the title race and provided many assists too for other players to score. I really don't know why you're whining about Billy in your article.

  3. O'Halloran was not signed until the 31st of January, three days after King had joined us. Warbs probably agreed to the deal as we had been encountering consistent problems with the O'Halloran and, at that time, it looked unlikely St Johnstone would sell him.

  4. It may have been strange but King did ten times better than O'Halloran in the few months they were both in the squad

  5. Agree King did well and I'd have him as a squad player who is young enough to improve.

    Many games last year where we couldn't fill the bench so King made perfect sense…

  6. King was good but considering the fact that tempelton was also injured for the full season and also he is useless when he plays anyway. At the time i would say it was a great signing as when you look at OHalloren he struggled to settle . Forrester,tempelton and waghorn all had bad injuries. I

  7. King has never impressed me. A lot of effort but far too ball greedy not passing until the opportunity was gone. not shown any real talent to merit a contract, much like Clark.

  8. King struggled due to lack of game time, this was down to the fact McKay was playing so well. Think King looks a better prospect than O'Halloran, who has obviously struggled to fit into our system. Think O'Halloran will turn out to be a bad buy I'm afraid.

  9. Robbie Neilson now has 4 months of insight into everything about Rangers from Billy. A good deal for Hearts I'd think. We'll do well to split them and Aberdeen next season.

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