In the wake of Mark Warburton resignation fiasco which resulted in manager Mark Warburton, assistant manager Davie Weir and Head of Recruitment Frank McParland leaving the club, Rangers Chairman Dave King and Chief Executive Stewart Robertson have both outlined plans for a Director of Football and Head Coach structure.
This news has been met with mixed responses in different quarters if you will, with the Scottish media only too willing to give a platform to ex-Celtic players telling us how a Director of Football is a “nonsense” idea and that train of thought has been backed by certain journalists as well. Some would call them dinosaurs; some would say they are being realists.
Whilst from gauging the Rangers support, the majority seem to back the idea for a modern structure like this, however there are obvious differences in who would be ideal for the Director of Football role and the type of person needed. There is also a part of the support who don’t understand what the role of a director of football actually entails.
As far as I can see a Director of Football oversees all football operations from the lowest age group through to the first team, manages what should be an extensive team of scouts, analysts etc and outlines the philosophy and recruitment policy. He should take control of overseeing things from performance to analysis and preparation.
He should never interfere on the training ground or have influence over team selection for example and for the set up to work there definitely needs to be clear boundaries set. With a chairman who isn’t present most of the time this structure would be excellent in my opinion. Another role is to have regular meetings with the head coach, head of recruitment and/or chief scout all present especially regarding potential targets.
For Rangers in particular what I feel is required is someone with experience of managing and implementing a strong scouting network as we are at square one as a club at the moment, with this a key area to bridge the gap to Celtic and someone with experience of the workings of an academy culture and recruitment of the best talents at a very young age being important.
Ross Wilson is the favourite for the role and fits that bill perfectly. He is currently Southampton’s Director of Scouting and Recruitment. I’m perfectly aware the chances of securing him are slim but if reports are correct he has at least talked to us in terms of this role in the last 10 days and it would see him having more power but within a tighter budget.
This below, from a recent talk with Ross Wilson via the Daily Record’s Gordon Waddell, gives an insight to the professionalism of Southampton strategy but also a key role Wilson plays.
“We have 60 staff, we have a structure and a strategy, but we constantly review the network on a three-year horizon, People ask ‘do you scout, do you video scout, data scout, are you stats based?’ It’s all of it, integrated into one. We have people at games, we have people analysing video and data, and it’s my job to make all of that feed in and fit in.”
In terms of discussion over the Director of Football role, Gary Neville interviewed Southampton’s Director of Football Les Reed in 2015 and claimed “The era of the gaffer is over”.
Whilst Neville is seen as one of the best pundits about, it was quite a bold statement especially if you consider his playing career was very successful under Sir Alex Ferguson where he ruled with complete control and authority.
Les Reed discussed that they already have a shortlist of manager targets that fit the model they want in a Head Coach whilst they have a manager in place to help with external circumstances and so that any transition is much smoother which surely has to be a positive thing?
Reed also discusses, “We would never go down that route. We will not be interviewed by a manager – we will interview them”. In this instance he is talking specifically that any manager who is interested in the Southampton Head Coach role must accept the philosophy of the club and needs to be happy to work under the structure they have in place.”
This role is very common throughout Europe but personally I often hear it doesn’t work in the U.K, I feel it is quite a misconception with Hearts in Scotland, Huddersfield, Tottenham, Southampton, Manchester City and Chelsea in England amongst the teams that utilise this set up and on the whole most of these teams are relatively successful considering their budgets.
In my opinion this modern structure is something Rangers are correct in looking to implement but it is important they take the time needed to secure the right person and whilst being an ex-player shouldn’t exclude you, I wouldn’t want us to be lazy in our recruitment of such an important role. If we are going down this route we need to fully commit to it.