Let’s have a quick look at the news surrounding Rangers and their players over the past few days.
On Sunday night, Northern Ireland lost out on a World Cup place to Switzerland. Lee Hodson was an unused substitute as the Ulstermen put up a great fight, but were unable to break the deadlock on the night. In truth, if Switzerland had a striker who wasn’t determined to miss more sitters than Waghorn and Garner combined last season, they’d have won comfortably. In the second half though, they certainly had moments of panic.
You’ll probably remember not so long ago that McCoist and Sutton had a debate about the strength of the Scotland national team as compared to Northern Ireland. It would seem said debate is still going on elsewhere. Some of the radio pundits in Scotland were of the belief that not one Northern Irish player would get a game for Scotland. That’s an opinion so unable to be backed up it should be dismissed as the nonsense of a child. There is zero justification for saying that any Scottish midfielder is better than Steven Davis. We certainly have no defenders who have played as consistently well as Jonny Evans or Gareth McAuley over the years. As much as the media influence is waning, that sort of arrogance is unhelpful overall.
And that brings us to the latest name to be heavily linked with the Rangers job, Michael O’Neill. The statement Rangers made regarding the managerial position hinted that we were waiting on managers who were currently in jobs becoming available. O’Neill has spent a lot of time in his current role, and I’d imagine he fancies a new challenge. Given the age of the Northern Ireland squad, it’s unlikely that the next couple of campaigns are going to go quite as well.
O’Neill has been linked with both the Scotland job and the position at Rangers. The former hasn’t really come from much aside from a wish from media and fans, it would seem. Conversely, he was barely mentioned by Rangers supporters as an option, but is now seriously considered due to the time being taken to hire someone. There’s no doubting how good a job he’s done with Northern Ireland. However, his club experience is limited, so he would be a risk in that regard.
Tonight, the Scotland U21s play Ukraine. This is a must-win game after a disappointing draw with Latvia on Friday night. Ryan Hardie came off the bench to score the penalty in that match (if you think the penalty awarded against Northern Ireland was bad recently, have a look at that one!), but neither of the McCrorie brothers were involved on the night. Many Rangers fans would find it strange that Ross McCrorie doesn’t start games at that level. However, he’s been behind the defensive options in this campaign so far, and his rise to prominence is still relatively new. He’ll get his chance, and hopefully take it, very soon I’d imagine.
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There have been some interviews with the likes of Candeias and Murty, with most of the focus being on the happiness of the squad. We seem to be working hard to ensure there’s a good atmosphere at the club right now. Murty looks set to continue as caretaker for at least one more match, which will ensure some continuity after the international break at least.
The biggest news coming from Rangers was obviously the statement on Friday evening. It’s been covered loads on this site and in various places, but I’d like to add my opinion after some time for reflection. The instant response was very negative, and certain wording was taken as meaning that the club have done very little since Pedro was dismissed. I’m not sure that was a fair reaction, but it was understandable. The club could have said nothing and the mood would have been better, so that’s a sure sign of a poor statement. Despite that, I don’t believe as many seem to that it rules out McInnes as a candidate, or that we’ve not planned correctly for replacing Caixinha.
The biggest factor in all of this is Mark Allen. His role would be superfluous if he wasn’t the point person for advising who our next manager should be. Allen only started in his role in August, and in that time he’s had to assess everything at the club, decide what needs improving straight away, settle into a role that was an extension on his experiences beforehand, and try to understand the requirements of Rangers in general. I’m convinced the board, and Allen, would have had names in mind if Pedro was to leave, but we would have been looking to that as a decision further into the future. We’ve made moves on the scouting side of things, and there’s more to come, but now Allen has had to drop everything somewhat unexpectedly. He absolutely should be given the time to make his recommendation that he needs. This decision is far bigger than just this season, or the upcoming games against Aberdeen. Those factors shouldn’t come into it in any way.
The club have had a number of applications, and will have names they want to approach on top of that. Allen will quite rightly want to consider everyone in some way so as to make the most informed choice. Had the club just approached McInnes straight away without doing this, there’d always be a slight hint of desperation. This way, we can assess the options, and if it’s still believed that the current Aberdeen manager is the best man for the job, at least we’ll have dispelled most doubts in the minds of the decision makers.
As I said in a previous article, the feeling around this from the fans was only going to grow in an international break. We have some games coming up to take a bit of attention away from that. I suspect we’ll hear soon enough about a new manager, but there really is no rush if the right person is hired.
Are you looking forward to the league games getting going again? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk with your thoughts!