The case of Rangers’ two young Nathans do indicate something quite serious at Rangers, and while it’s not been costly in the past season, it’s indicative of a culture in Govan, one which should be looked into.
Nathan Young-Coombes recently joined Brentford, a PL side, likely going into their B team, because he couldn’t get anywhere near the Rangers side.
Of course, homesickness and the Covid stuff played a big part too, but ultimately a talented young player wasn’t given a shot at the seniors. At age 17, as he was last season, it’s a pivotal time in a young player’s career, and being left in the reserves of the SPL just isn’t the way to develop.
Instead, he’s taken the move south to play in the far superior PL2 with designs of course of breaking into their first team at Griffin Park and getting into the PL proper.
But then there’s the other Nathan. Our remaining Nathan, Nathan Patterson, DID break through, at 19 becoming a major player at Ibrox and getting a call for his country’s first major championships in a generation.
He made it.
But there’s a big BIG but.
Nathan Patterson’s talent, while evidently good enough to play for Rangers at a senior level, STILL wasn’t enough to break him into the first team – he had to benefit from James Tavernier being injured and there being absolutely no alternative.
Indeed, even his Covid breach was overlooked because we needed someone, anyone to play competently while Tav was out.
Leon Balogun had been tried, and sadly his legs no longer have it to play RB, so that one didn’t work.
No, it was left to Patterson to save Rangers’ day.
And herein is the issue – youth is given absolutely no chance and Rangers haven’t learned a damn thing from Billy Gilmour.
Gilmour’s reasons for leaving vary wildly depending on who you listen to and how angry they are, but a major cause of his departure was the complete inability for young players to get into the senior setup.
Look at Celtic – in the past decade Callum McGregor, Kieran Tierney, James Forrest and other young players have broken through and starred for their seniors. They do it right, let’s be honest.
But Rangers just don’t. Nathan Patterson’s talent wasn’t why he got a chance, Tavernier’s injury was – if the skipper hadn’t been laid out for a couple of months, Patterson would still be benched every match or being prepped for a loan to Queen of the South.
This is a major reason the other Nathan quit – yes, he was homesick and the Covid stuff played a role too, but he just wasn’t going to be given a shot.
Now, there’s a BIG caveat – we just won 55 so there’s a lot of slack in the method – the ends justify the means and always will.
But if we ever want Allan McGregors or Barry Fergusons again in our team we really need to trust our kids are better than we give them credit for.
They need to know there’s a pathway to the seniors, rather than a conveyer belt of letting kids go every summer.
If Tavernier hadn’t been injured, Patterson wouldn’t be going to the Euros and would almost certainly have exited with the rest of them a couple of days ago.
Things really need to change.