12 March 2015
Why Cathro is the Man to Rebuild Rangers
by John McIntosh | Guest Contributor
Ian Cathro is the 28-year-old Scot who is currently Valencia assistant manager, helping to guide his side back to a Champions League spot.
Having defeated the likes of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid this season, he's trying to achieve this whilst helping oversee a brand of attacking flowing football which is certainly very pleasing on the eye.
"What has he achieved in the game?". "Who is he?". These are a few of the comments laid at his door when he is touted for the vacant head coach role at Ibrox to rebuild our institution. Let's look at the facts – within six years he has went from coaching his own skills based coaching group for young children in Dundee, to Valencia assistant coach. That just does not happen by chance, so I think the lack of respect or knowledge on him is quite astounding.
Cathro has never played the game professionally, having had youth spells with teams such as Forfar and Brechin. Injuries had a major impact and he realises he just wasn't good enough, knowing that the British game in particular looks for managers/head coaches with a playing career, he knew he could never manage a club here without gaining coaching experience elsewhere.
His skills based coaching group for children 'Master the Ball, Master the Game', was noticed by Levein who saw that the players he had were technically superior to his Dundee United players of the same age. So impressed, he offered Cathro the job of head of youth academy at 22 years old. He has helped develop and is known as a major influence on the careers of young Ryan Gauld and John Souttar and with the continuation of youth talent coming from Tannadice.
He was then fast tracked to the SFA to lead the Dundee base of youth performance and development however he could not provide the level of commitment needed as he was seeing himself as far more of a head coach, a future career path that years before he never envisaged, however seeing the young kids he developed progress to first teams he had changed his mind.
Cathro said on the possibility of becoming a head coach in the U.K: "I just don’t think the opportunity would have come for me here. The only way I would find that sort of employment here is to leave, prove a success and then people here might start to open themselves up to it."
A chance meeting with Nuno Santos in Largs on a coaching course has developed into an excellent working relationship and mutual respect between two men. Nuno took him to Rio Ave in Portugal, usually a side that aims to fight relegation, and they took them to an impressive 6th and 11th place finish in two seasons, playing in front of crowds of just roughly 2,000.
They also made the Portuguese Cup and League Cup final in the 2013/2014 season, losing twice to Benfica. However they managed to secure European football in the shape of the Europa League, the first time in Rio Ave's history this has been achieved.
Following that historic season Sporting Braga were close to securing the management team of Rio Ave, however Valencia swooped for the men and their reputations have continued to grow during an impressive first season in La Liga.
Cathro said in an interview on his thoughts on his career and future: "This year is valuable. I could have stayed at home but this is preparation for my career. I asked myself what experience would be more valuable for when I’m 40 years old. I’m in preparation phase. This is my Masters era at university in La Liga, for example. That’s what forces me not to have those moments of going, 'Wow, I’m in the dugout of wherever'.”
Cathro is incredibly ambitious and doesn’t plan on sticking around in Valencia long, he sees himself as his own man and when asked if he would leave massive games against Barcelona and Real Madrid for a head coach role at a lower U.K side, he replied:
"Yes, no doubt, the two things I will need are a full pre-season to get my ideas across and to be somewhere where English is the first language. I can express myself confidently in Portuguese and I’m getting better with Spanish, but if I’m going to be in charge, I need to be able to communicate properly."
When asked to discuss his philosophy of the rebuilding process, Cathro had this to say: "We’re trying to do two things: project ahead, planning a squad and parts of our playing identity, which will go on to be the foundation of the next steps in the project, whilst needing to be responsive and adapting, sometimes week by week to the opponent, to ensure that we meet our first objective.
"You need to grow all aspects of your club and be a lot more careful and skilled, not only in the recruitment of players but when you do that. You can’t do it all at once and you need to be looking two or three transfer windows ahead of yourself, as well as the development of the younger players at the club, and the eventual playing identity."
Now those words first translate excellently to what I would love in a Rangers head coach and secondly the project he speaks of is exactly what we are looking at in the need to rebuild an institution. No offence to the likes of McCall and McInnes but they will never be visionaries or classed as geniuses to lead us long term, this is our one and only chance we will be able to get him in as many believe he is a world class coach in the making.
I don’t believe age is a barrier to his prospects of a head coach role at Ibrox however I do feel it would be beneficial if he brought in an assistant manager that was well versed in the Scottish game and had vast experience or was working alongside a Director of Football. Is appointing him a risk? Yes, every managerial appointment is a risk however I feel the bigger risk is to take the safe option who will never be able to revolutionise our club and take us to that next level - whereas Cathro has the potential to do exactly that.
Considering our waste of a talented bunch of kids in our under 20 side over the past three years, he is the type of coach who would be able to utilise this to its fullest and given his track record of developing young players this makes him an outstanding candidate.
I personally feel that we should be implementing the same formation and football identity from our youngest age group to the first team, so that the transition is easier as they step up. However I’m sure Cathro would have many ideas to rejuvenate our club from top to bottom, with a top class scouting network a priority as this will be key to identify talent at the right price.
I will leave with this quote from Cathro that I think sums up his philosophy and why this would be a bold and exciting choice for us to go for. He would be a radical and ground-breaking coup resulting in ourselves going in a different direction from the norm, a young progressive coach could excite the Ibrox support...
"You project forward to the types of job you want to do, I want to fill a stadium and make people excited about coming, feeling that as an enjoyable thing to watch and embrace, whilst being able to do something of significance at a club that leaves a structure and a system so that it continues to profit from beyond my period of time."