29 January 2014

The Continental Blueprint

by Jamie Currie | Guest Contributor

In the last 18-month period, it is fair to say the football at Rangers has been a sideshow to the off-field issues inside the boardroom. A massive opportunity has been missed on the playing side of things to bring through the youth as the spine of the side and re-invent the style of play and overall footballing philosophy of the club, right from the first-team squad to the lowest age group of youths.

After much thought and deliberation about it, I feel the director of football model with a head coach is the best model to take the club forward concerning the football side of the business. This would allow the director of football to oversee the scouting department – if there ever comes a time were we employ a scouting team. In addition; oversee the youth sides, with the soul focus of bringing players through with the opportunity to get into the first team over winning the youth trophies.

The idea would not just leave the coach to coach the team. He would also be involved in setting the club ethos and philosophy with regards to style of play and team formation and system – which is badly lacking at the moment. Both would work together with the identification of potential transfer targets, along with the chief executive who would in turn form a transfer committee, which the head coach would go to both the director of football and chief executive with his list of targets. They would agree and disagree on which targets are viable and fit into the club’s transfer policy – ideally with the head coach having the final say on who he would like to bring in to join the squad.

This would filter down the age group meaning right from the under 8’s to the senior squad the teams will play in the same manner and system. Like Barcelona’s youth system at La Masia the transition from under 20’s to the first team should be seamless - with each player knowing their exact role within the team and what is expected of them.

This is extremely important to allow the club to produce the youth talents. Like we have now mainly Lewis Macleod and Fraser Aird. Give them some good game time for a few years and sell on for a profit, which in turn means money would be pumped back into the youth system and the rest to the head coach for a transfer kitty, to replace the boys who have moved on.

The system would allow the club to be self-sustainable, and create some of our own income. It would in theory be higher in cost to the system we have in place at the moment, having to get a scouting team and director of football onto the wage bill.

It may take one or two years to implement this idea, mainly because of the money side of thing but it’s definitely a structure that the club should take a look at over the next 12 to 18 months. It usually frightens some chairmen and fans in Britain to think about this model. I would say the sway of opinion has changed.

When we see clubs such as Swansea – who only a decade ago were in a similar situation of that to ourselves, able to appoint coach after coach from Roberto Martinez to Michael Laudrup right now and still stick to their footballing philosophy and principles while building from League 2 (or Division 3 as it was then) all the way up to the top flight and competing in the Europa League.

Even though 18 months have been chronically wasted – in which everyone in the Ibrox hierarchy must take their blame from the board to the manager, it’s not too late to take a radical approach and change the way the football side of the business operates.

As I’ve said changes like this will not happen overnight, of course the boardroom is the most pressing issue at this time. Although, first and foremost we are a football club absent of any footballing identity. The fans said from the start youth was the way to go to march through the divisions and regain our place at the top table of Scottish football.

If the club can get itself run properly and the chief executive and manager to get on board with this idea, it’s a completely different direction, and with that comes teething problems. If it improves the club as a whole and gives the team a clear footballing identity, I’m sure the fans would accept some initial problems to get the team playing some good attractive winning football with some young boys from Auchenhowie leading the charge from the front.

It’s gone beyond just winning. Winning is vitally important, yes. In my view it’s more important to be winning in a style that entertains and reflects the club that the players are representing.