15 May 2013

Ins and Outs for Division Two

by Alan Clark | Assignments Editor

Media reports of the players in discussions about a move to Rangers are increasing as Ally McCoist stated he hopes to get four signings over the line by this weekend.

The fans are split on potential targets like Jon Daly, Nacho Novo and Kenny Miller. Some would welcome the experience of these players at the club, others seek only young talent who would shine in the lower leagues and perhaps get the club a transfer fee in a few years’ time.

Clearly, the club needs to do adopt some cost-cutting as the initial financial results that came in were not pleasing, albeit not that worrying. The 38,000 season ticket holders for the Third Division was outrageous, and gave a huge financial boost to Rangers last August – but no-one knows if the club can attract that many again. The price freeze may help that, however. 

The wage bill is an issue that a lot of the support feel needs addressing. A reported £7million-a-year for the fourth tier was very questionable – even if it was a huge reduction from £20million the club was paying out in the SPL. Now Rangers have moved up to the third tier but that shouldn’t mean an increase in the wage bill. It should be reduced, but not in a draconian way.

Sacked striker Francisco Sandaza and the released Kevin Kyle will see the club save some dough, especially with the fact the Spaniard was due to have an increase in his weekly wage from £4,500 to £5,500 for the new season. Loyal servant Neil Alexander looks likely to leave, as he wasn’t impressed with a pay cut and one-year deal that was on offer.

With the season over and a summer of transfer rumours abound, here’s my analysis of what I think the club should be doing in the transfer market, both in and out of Ibrox.

Players in: Nicky Clark, Cammy Bell, Nicky Law, Jon Daly, A Left Back.

Players out: Neil Alexander, Blair Currie, Darren Cole, Anestis Argyriou, Carlos Bocanegra, Dorin Goian, Emilson Cribari, Ross Perry, Kyle Hutton, Francisco Sandaza, Kevin Kyle and Kal Naismith.

Here’s my rationale for the ins and outs, starting off with Nicky Clark.

As I wrote in March, the young striker knows the Second Division well and put it to the sword, with 41 goals in all competitions. He won the PFA Scotland Player of the Year award for SFL2. He is a pacey striker with an obvious knack for putting the ball in the back of the net. The Express are reporting the club has offered him only “marginally better” terms than what he’s on at Queen of the South, so Rangers are not forking out big wages for him.

The signing of goalkeeper Cammy Bell on a free to replace Alexander for me is a great piece of business – Alexander is 34 whilst Bell has plenty of years ahead of him and impressed big time in the SPL with Kilmarnock. I’m willing to bet that Bell will be on a similar wage as to what Alexander was offered as a pay cut, so again it’s not negative for the wage bill.

Nicky Law was voted into the SPL team of the year for Motherwell and is quite a tidy midfielder. At the age of 25 he hasn’t peaked yet and in my view he would fit perfectly alongside Lewis MacLeod in the middle. The two would complement each other, and Law won’t be on a large wage at Well so hopefully the club offer him something higher but only slightly.

Jon Daly has polarised opinion. He is 30 years old, and some believe he will be coming in on a big wage. I think having Daly as back up to a strike force of Clark and Andy Little would be great, as he offers a presence up front and has a decent scoring record. He can also be used as an emergency centre back in the case of injuries. As long as the wage is not ridiculous, I’d be happy with Daly on a two-year deal.

To the players I’d like to see go and Cribari and Argyriou would be first. Both have failed to impress and will likely be taking in a bit of a wage per week, given the pedigree the former had at previous clubs. Bocanegra and Goian returning from their loans will cause a problem if they want to stay, because as much as I’d like to see Captain America back at Ibrox the two will be earning SPL wages. We are playing third-tier football next season and anything above £10,000-a-week is dangerous.

Cole, aka Holiday Daz, has had a poor attitude on and off the park all season. From holidays and Nando’s to slagging off fans, Cole has made himself rather unpopular. On the park he hasn’t looked exactly focused in the time he had, which was marred by injury yet again. An injury-prone average defender with a stinking attitude. Not for me.

Now to Perry, Hutton and Naismith. Perry showed promise in a few games in the SPL but looked very unsteady in the Third Division. Hutton is another who showed good signs but has had an indifferent season, and has irked a lot of the support with his Twitter antics. Only in a handful of games has Hutton looked like a good player, the rest he has been posted missing or gave the ball away far too many times. Naismith has shown nothing to suggest he should be at Rangers; it’s startling how many of his shots end up near the corner flag. A hugely frustrating player who I’d rather see off the wage bill.

Which leaves the Rangers squad for season 2013/14 as;

Goalkeepers: Cammy Bell, Liam Kelly, Scott Gallacher, Alan Smith.

Defenders: S├ębastien Faure, Luca Gasparotto, Lee McCulloch, Chris Hegarty, Andrew Mitchell, Kyle McAusland, Lee Wallace

Midfielders: Fraser Aird, Ian Black, Robbie Crawford, Nicky Law, Lewis Macleod, Andrew Murdoch, Barrie McKay, Dean Shiels, Danny Stoney, David Templeton, Tom Walsh

Forwards: Kane Hemmings, Andrew Little, Jon Daly, Nicky Clark

My first-choice starting 11 out of that squad would be; Bell, Mitchell, Hegarty, Gasparotto, Wallace, Templeton, Law, MacLeod, Aird, Clark, Little.

That would leave Faure, McCulloch and Daly as cover for centre half – McAusland, Hegarty and Faure as potential right-back cover, and a new left-back as cover for Wallace. The midfield and attacking midfield options are a decent blend of experience and youth also, with rotation a must. A strike force of Clark and Little would bang in at least 40-50 goals between them, with McCulloch, Daly and Hemmings as back up.

For me this squad represents a balance of what the team needs and what the fans want. It helps the wage bill breathe a little easier with the removal of some high-earners, and brings in a smaller number for less money. The experience from McCulloch and Wallace will continue to be invaluable to the young crop, as will Daly coming in (and physicality up top that Kyle brought in his limited appearances that worked well).

That squad includes 19 players under the age of 25, with the majority of them capable of playing in the first-team and have done so in the Third Division. The others over the age of 25 bring a balance to the squad.

I have a feeling that next season will be successful and rather good for Rangers – but it comes down to Ally McCoist making the right type of signings and offloading the deadwood of the squad. Feel free to leave a comment below with your opinion, email my CRO address or tweet me. Be nice.