Thursday, 13 June 2019

Ibrox promotion may have been a big error - counting the cost

With today’s effective confirmation that Glenn Middleton will go out on loan to Doncaster for the new season, it has to call into question his promotion to Rangers’ first team squad in the first place.

We know Steven Gerrard was a rookie manager last campaign, and we tried to make allowances for that while marrying that up with the expectations of him, but we can’t help the suspicion Glenn Middleton was one he rather made a mess of.

Exposing him to European football as an unknown quantity, one who did well thanks to the ‘surprise’ factor of his presence, before he started getting expectations on his shoulders and struggling under the pressure of them, before fading totally to the bench.

Much was made last summer of Academy kids knocking on the front door, with then-new manager Gerrard confirming some of them were ready to stake a claim and would be promoted into the senior squad.

And Middleton was the beneficiary.

And we can’t help feeling a year of his development was wasted by burdening him with too much and then retreating him away too dramatically as he crumbled.

In truth, it takes an exceptionally special player to cope with the demands of playing for Rangers in the first place, and an even more special one at 18 as Middleton was then.

And we can’t avoid that nagging notion that rather than Middleton being promoted ahead of the rest, frankly no one should have been.

We have some promising talent down there in our Academy. Kennedy and Young-Coombes are two stand outs. Mebude has also had some little cameos in the first team.

But these kids are too green, too raw, and we really can’t see the point in promotion unless they’re truly extraordinary Ross McCrorie-style (and he too isn’t a guaranteed starter, far from it) to have the mental strength as well as ability to handle playing for Rangers at such a young age.

In short, we’d argue none of the Academy kids are ready for the first-team squad, and the best ones would benefit from loans out for senior football – it’s a policy Rangers have had in place for seasons, as all clubs do, but in future, learning from Middleton’s example, let’s not promote any kids to the senior squad unless we are absolutely sure they’re ready.

Middleton wasn’t. Hopefully his career isn’t set back too much from that.

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