Former Rangers striker Kenny Miller has claimed that “questions need to be asked” over the lack of homegrown talent at Ibrox – comparing them with bitter rivals Celtic who have regularly had the likes of Callum McGregor, Kieran Tierney and James Forrest starring for them.
Miller pointed to Ryan Jack’s position as the only Gers star likely to get in the Scotland squad as proof of how Rangers are doing things wrong in a debate on BBC Sportsound, quoted by Football Scotland.
Jack might be the only Rangers player likely to make the Scotland squad currently – mainly down to the wide range of nationalities at Ibrox – but had Allan McGregor not retired from international duty and Scott Arfield inexplicably frozen out of the Scotland set-up in favour of dross there would be a few more faces joining Jack from Ibrox.
Miller’s comments don’t come close to accurately reflecting the reality of the situation and ignores some of the major events at Ibrox in recent years that have had a part to play.
There’s the obvious starting point of the financial meltdown of 2012 that saw a host of players and staff leave the club – beyond those who made the headlines – and saw Rangers effectively have to start from scratch in terms of building a youth programme.
Many of the young players who were still at the club were rushed into the side at the time, well ahead of when they should have and are still dotted around clubs the length and breadth of the UK.
Miller’s comments also completely ignore the impressive numbers of young players from Rangers in the various Scottish youth squads with five young Gers in the Scotland under-21 squad – plus ex-Ger Billy Gilmour – and several others in younger groups.
Speaking of Gilmour, the Chelsea ace spent several years at Ibrox before his move to Stamford Bridge and the Gers should get some credit for their role in Gilmour’s development.
If Miller really wants to compare with Celtic, the examples he points to have all been in the first-team across the city for years.
Mikey Johnston looks like being the latest to cement his place in the first-team there but has he really done any more than someone like Ross McCrorie or Glenn Middleton?
But where are the others? Celtic’s latest great hope after Johnston is a player recently released by Rangers after failing to make the grade at Ibrox.
Last season the young Gers lifted the SPFL Reserve League, the Scottish FA Youth Cup, the CAS Under-18 league and several invitational tournaments and will this year compete in the UEFA Youth League – with ambitions of going far in the tournament.
Have the likes of Josh McPake, Zak Rudden, Stephen Kelly, Robby McCrorie suddenly turned into poor footballers in Miller’s view?
If Miller seriously thinks that Rangers are “toiling” in comparison to their Old Firm rivals when it comes to developing young players then he’s doing a real disservice to Craig Mulholland and his staff at the club’s Academy.
Perhaps if he hadn’t departed Ibrox after being suspended by the club for a breach of discipline he would have a different view.