Because Rangers’ scouting department is so clueless, it seems that someone has to finally tell them their job.
I don’t know about you, but I for one don’t want another season of bad signings, and us moaning about being behind Celtic again.
So to start.
We are not looking for a player who is good at keepie-uppies.
We are not looking for people who can pass the ball perfectly sideways.
Nor do we want someone who can run at 100 miles per hour with his head pointed downwards.
Sadly, what we are really looking for is not a parameter that is recorded by the data crunchers; and I honestly don’t know why.
And that omission is why, in this (I have to say) stupid era of computer driven management, we never see many players that are truly Rangers class.
Now for those who are younger, you might not understand why we always seem to be so critical about the current crop of players, even though they sometimes have better ball control than the lot from decades ago.
The missing magic ingredient in our current team, which has been missing for far too long, is something I have actually mentioned in a number of my European articles.
We need the player who can play chess.
When you are in their presence, you can spot these players a mile away, but even when you know they’re special, most fans do not actually understand what is it about these players that makes them so special. It just like magic dust. It’s a something that seems to always allow these They players to make a difference. The players like Scotty Arfield who just seem to know where to be, and when to get to the right spot in the penalty box.
They are the Goalaks of this world, who seem to be able to “just by luck” always appear to do the right thing.
The type of player that Beale routinely got rid of. Because they would never do what Beale was ordering them to do, and that was to play to a tactic and to stop thinking.
So, what is this mystic unrecorded datapoint that our clueless professional scouting department be looking for?
Well….it starts with someone who can play as part of a team, but it is not a robot who just marches to the manager’s tactical plan.
What we need are players who can help us break through a stubborn defence. The player who can make false runs, and move the defenders around a little.
You know….to make gaps.
When these deceptive runs are done right, the defenders will often have no clue what to do, because a perfect deceptive run is also a threat.
And this now takes us to the hidden data point. It is head movement.
….and the use of that thing inside the head called a brain.
I heard everyone is supposed to have one, but most modern footballers are so drilled into just playing positional football it no longer seems they do.
Sadly, it seems that only us oldies now remember watching games where you could sense who was really reading the game.
They were often, but now always, the captains. The Johan Cruyffs of the world, who knew how to tweak the gameplan on the fly, without the manager screaming from the touchline, and not only score winning goals, but could also make their teams very difficult to beat.
Today, the fact is Johan Cruyff would never get a game. The stats show he is was too slow to be a football player. Hagi is a similar player, who if it was not for his father, he would never get into a team.
What we want, what we need to buy in this and all future windows are the players who are constantly, looking around the field.
Not running around the park as if they didn’t have a head.
Celtic, sadly, have these players like this by the boatload, and I hate to say it, but that one difference gives them a huge advantage, and it shows.
….they have thinkers.
The player like Hagi, we shipped then out, because thinkers, true world class players were for too independent for our previous manager Beale. For those still out there, who still think Beale was harshly treated, yes Beale could have been one of the greats.
He knew tactics
…but his ego will always get in the way of making his teams great.
But we don’t want to rant about Beale.
What simply need players who have the 360 degree head. Those who are moving and have a plan before they even get the ball.
The ones who are thinking ahead and can sense how to move the opponents around to make a gap for someone else.
The players who can spot a run that will take an opponent well out of position. A run that will never be recorded in any computer statistics.
It is this one forgotten ability that makes the difference between an average player and a great player, and we need our young players practicing this more.
What we want. No, what we must demand is our players need to be thinking at least two, or if possible three moves ahead. Just like chess.
They are professional football players. Being skilful with the ball is the base minimum.
It is time that they actually started learning how to really play the game.
….if they learn just this one “secret” they might find they will become infinitely better footballers.