These are a rare thing these days but Ibrox Noise noted with interest the wide praise given to former Rangers star Neil McCann for his work in developing Glen Kamara from the youth player to the growingly confident senior star he is becoming.
While it took the Finn a little time to perform to the level we expect on the site, his display against Easter Road showed most vividly his success in transforming from a tender young lamb into a player who can very much be described as in the mould of N’Golo Kante.
And while his youth spell with Arsenal has a part to play, evidently McCann has been the biggest influence in cultivating the best out of the former Dundee man, their time together on Tayside forging an extremely potent unit indeed.
Indeed, the former Rangers winger was the one to bring Kamara north from Arsenal’s Academy, and Kamara vividly credits him with making him the player he is today:
“He allowed me to express myself and I think I’ve done that. His quality was that he gave confidence to players and let them do what they could do on the pitch. He told me when I arrived to show people what I could do I didn’t find it all that different from down south, maybe a bit quicker.”
His new manager agrees:
“He’s been well coached at Arsenal, and I also think I have to mention Neil McCann who I think has done an excellent job in taking him from academy football to the next level and introducing him to the real world. Dundee not only gave him the opportunity to play in front of crowds, but in Neil he had a manager who hasn’t tried to change his game in terms of playing forward and getting on second balls, even though you need those basics of the game. He’s improved his passing range and he’s been coached in a system that really suits the Rangers way, maybe without Neil knowing it. I have to give Neil McCann credit because I like the way he coaches and the way he plays the game. It’s similar to what we’re trying to do here.”
While McCann himself is extremely modest and takes little credit:
“He’s a brilliant boy. He’s also so laidback he’s bordering on horizontal at times and that’s a big advantage if you want to be a guy who keeps the ball under pressure. Glen could play in the English Premier League no problem. He could go into a side with higher quality around him and fit right into that level. That’s how good he is.”
But the reality is if you have a coach believing in you and giving you freedom to play your way, you’re going to develop quickly, with his stabilisers there to give a helping hand when you need it.
Kamara might not be quite the finished anchor man product yet at Ibrox, but he firmly got his foot in the first team door and hasn’t looked out of place. We still rate Ross McCrorie hugely, but the way Kamara has recently started producing, McCrorie may have to wait a little longer to get his chance again.
And most of it is thanks to Neil McCann.