A day or two ago Rangers made a very, very unexpected announcement – 21-year old Jamie Barjonas, a favourite on Ibrox Noise of one of our regulars (you know who you are) was confirmed as having signed a new deal and being promoted to the first team.
We found this development both welcome and utterly curious at the same time. And guess what – here’s why:
It’s clearly welcome to see our manager devoting time to the club’s own reared youth – to see Auchenhowie products actually graduate into the senior team. This is what Auchenhowie is for, to see our youth players making their way up the ladder from the young teens into the seniors. Of course, the majority don’t get close to making it that far, don’t get close to being an Allan McGregor or a Barry Ferguson, but the point is of the 50 that maybe aren’t good enough, one might just knock on the door of promotion. And there’s nothing that fans love more than a Rangers kid proving himself on the big stage at Ibrox.
On the other hand, Steven Gerrard is a Rangers manager who, like Walter Smith and many others who came before him, who isn’t much interested in Rangers’ youth systems – since arriving in May last year Gerrard has promised much with regards our own players aged under 22, and yet not a single one has managed to make the grade under him.
While Greg Docherty isn’t one of our own products, he is/was of that age range yet got dumped out to Shrewsbury and on his recall has barely been seen. Ross McCrorie, mentioned earlier today, had a bit of a sniff last season but was axed this campaign in favour of minutes at Portsmouth. And then there’s all the recently ‘promoted’ kids – Serge Atakayi, Dapo Mebude, Zak Rudden, Josh McPake, Glenn Middleton – all got ‘promoted’ to the first team then faded just as quickly. We have no reason to believe Jamie Barjonas will be any different.
Whether Gerrard doesn’t trust Rangers’ youth, whether he doesn’t rate it, or whatever the reason in 18 months next-to-no youngsters have truly broken through to the Rangers first team, the promotion of Jamie Barjonas, while nice, looks more like propaganda to prove Auchenhowie is ‘working’ than a genuine attempt at bringing a player management think is good enough into the first-team picture.
After all, if Ross McCrorie, the ‘next big thing’ the club had hopes and dreams for last season, the ‘major Auchenhowie senior player’ the official channels were so pleased with can’t get a game for Rangers today and instead finds himself down south at a smaller club, what chance does Barjonas have?
We hope we’re wrong, and this lad rises to actually make a real fist of it in the squad, but our hopes are low.