As another loan in Lassana Coulibaly puts pen to paper, on the face of it, a summer window filled with loans and frees seems a stingy way forward given all the pre-Steven Gerrard hype about him ‘not coming to Rangers if he wasn’t going to have a budget’ and the hysteria of a ‘£30M’ warchest.
Rangers are not in that market any more – maybe in the future, but for now, most definitely not.
The hard fact is we have signed nine players this summer, and only spent hard cash on three of them. Only Brighton’s Connor Goldson (£3M), Slaven Belupo’s Nikola Katic (£2M) and Brighton’s Jamie Murphy (£600,000) cost any money at all, totalling around £5.5M.
Scott Arfield, Allan McGregor and Jon Flanagan were all Bosmans, while Ovie Ejaria, Lassana Coulibaly and the incoming Umar Sadiq are all loans.
So, on the surface, the reality is Rangers remain financially strapped by comparison with Celtic, and our window, while certainly promising, nevertheless reflects this.
And frankly it’s the right way forward.
Last summer Pedro Caixinha wasted around £11M+ on a ‘revolution’ which simply left us with expensive surplus players we cannot get rid of. And that lesson appeared to have been learned in January as we loaned three players and signed just one outright. Two, if you add Declan John.
This club, even with Pep Guardiola in charge, cannot risk blindly supporting any manager now with serious hard money. Not until the club is stronger, leaner, and starting to profit in a responsible manner.
The strategy of bringing in inexpensive players like James Tavernier, Alfredo Morelos, Greg Docherty and Josh Windass then raising their asset value while rearing youth more seriously and topping up with wise bosmans and some loans is a long-haul game.
Rangers, promoted in 2016, are still some way off being ready to face Celtic toe to toe. The players we have do appear to be a slight step up from last summer, but the reality is we would say that wouldn’t we?
We said it last summer too! A Portuguese titan like Bruno Alves, Vitoria De Setubal’s prize asset in Fabio Cardoso, former Scotland international in Graham Dorrans…
We’ve been here before folks, so while we like the current direction things are going in, we have a rookie manager and players who may or may not work out.
But we do feel January’s approach was much wiser than last summer’s. Do we really want to spend £15M and find £10M+ was wasted on players who didn’t work out, but who looked like they should?
We have genuinely taken financial risk on two players – Katic and Goldson – all permanent signings carry risk, but it’s more shrewd than signing half of Mexico and Portugal on the whim of a Celtic fan who couldn’t believe his luck in getting the job.
We will see how it plays out – we will see just how good Steven Gerrard turns out to be as a manager, but really, the balance of the window is wise. Three permanent signings, three loans, and three Bosmans.
It is the right parity between risk and safety.
Whether the players work out, we’ll see, but the strategy is arguably fair.