The Little General loved to cherry pick other Scottish clubs to strengthen his squad, simultaneously weakening the opposition. It seemed to work out ok for him, didn’t it?
My esteemed colleague and all round top man at @rangersnewsuk, @steven_harrigan has already provided his wish list of players and with Graeme Murty already stating that transfer dealings are well under way I thought I treat myself to a bit of speculation.
Defence – Full backs
The full back area has caused a bit of concern this year. James Tavernier and Declan John have both improved defensively as the season has gone on but aren’t quite the finished articles. John is young at just 22 and only in his first season at the club (which is frequently overlooked) and Tavernier has now been given the extra responsibility of captain such is his development.
But we are short of cover. Lee Hodson and Lee Wallace are both international full backs and should be adequate back up. However, Lee Hodson every time he pulls on a Rangers jersey looks so bereft of confidence that we have resorted to playing Andy Halliday at left back when both John and Wallace were injured. Which brings me onto Wallace, I’ve always loved Lee Wallace, in full flight overlapping there aren’t many finer sights. The way that Jamie Murphy plays too would benefit Wallace and it could be a potent weapon, but he just can’t get himself fit. Declan John is now first choice and Wallace has a real battle on his hands.
If Wallace decides he needs to move on for first team football (I hope he gets a decent send off by the way), there is a ready-made replacement in the SPFL already. If we can find a taker for Hodson there is also a much better back up for Tavernier plying his trade up here.
Jon Aurtenetxe and Jason Naismith at Dundee and Ross County respectively have both performed well when we have played against them. I’m a big fan of Naismith, if Rangers got a decent offer for Tavernier I reckon he’d be a more than adequate replacement given his ability on the ball and delivery from a cross.
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Oh yeah, and did I mention they were both available on a free, you see where I’m going with this now aye?!
Two proven players at this level and both probably on lower wages than the current back up players, makes good footballing and financial sense.
Defence – Centre half
I’ve already said I see McCrorie’s future at centre half. Get David Bates on a new contract as soon as possible and we have the makings of a decent pairing. I know a lot of Rangers fans can’t wait to see the back of Bruno Alves but if we can’t find anyone who will take him then he’s not a bad player for the other boys to learn off. If Alves played for 90 minutes the way he has shown in some 45 minute periods he would be an asset, maybe a new manager is all he needs.
I’ve seen enough of Russell Martin at international and club level now to know that I don’t rate him as a centre half, I thought (wrongly), given his experience at both levels he would cope up here without any problems but he hasn’t. And that’s nothing to do with the 3 penalties he has had controversially given against him.
This is where I think we should spend some money. Tall, athletic, comfortably with the ball, young and has shown they can play in this league. Not too much to ask for, is it? Scott McKenna at Aberdeen reminds me a wee bit of Alan McLaren with some of his attributes. Sign him and it would strengthen us and weaken them. We would have to pay decent money for him but Jack Hendry cost £1.5m for Celtic so there is a bench mark figure there and he would be worth that level of investment, I have no doubt.
Aberdeen have a new stadium to pay for and are losing two of their best players already in Kenny Mclean and Ryan Christie without any money coming in, a bid in the region of £2m would be hard to turn down.
Overall, I don’t think our squad is far away, it is no coincidence that the noticeable weakness in the team recently has been the area that has suffered the greatest number of injuries. To have Ryan Jack, Graham Dorrans, Ross McCrorie and Jordan Rossiter all injured at the same time has led to the absence of a “water carrier” or natural defensive midfielder.
Personally, I’d rather have McCrorie at centre half, this gives him the option of carrying the ball out of defence plus his forward passing and reading of the game is well ahead of his 19 years.
So, do we need re-enforcements in midfield? If you remember the halcyon days of Ferguson, Van Bronkhorst, Albertz and Reyna then you’d agree that we do. Who would I bring in? Kilmarnock’s Youssouf Mulumbu and Hibernian’s Dylan McGeouch.
Both players have shown time and time again that they are not only better than what we have, but also that they are better than most other central midfielders in the league. Mulumbu has strolled Scottish football since he signed for Kilmarnock at the end of November in 2017 and for me is a serious contender for Player of the Year. He protects his backline and always looks forwards when breaking play up, he can play in a two such is his effectiveness and positional awareness.
The second choice is slightly more controversial, Dylan McGeouch. No mean feat but he manages to make John McGinn look good. I want to hate McGeouch but I can’t, he is just a really good footballer and would strengthen our ability to control games. He was also at the club as a youngster during Sir Walter’s second period so is fully aware of what it takes and maybe feels he has a point to prove at that level.
More importantly, both players will be available for free at the end of the season, this frees up cash for other areas that might require a transfer fee. Almost zero risk because you know the players are amongst the best in their position in the league and there would be no need for a transfer fee. McGeouch is 25 and Mulumbu, 31 so age certainly isn’t an issue either. Do I think these players will be at Ibrox next season? Probably not, but I hope we bring in players that we know can be trusted to improve this area of the team.
We must secure both Jason Cummings and Jamie Murphy when their respective loan periods end. I’d sell Alfredo Morelos, reluctantly, but only if we had been able to secure someone like Oliver McBurnie first. Here I agree with Stevie. He can hold the ball up, bring other players, play on his own or in a pair and he is also a decent finisher. It helps he is a massive Blue Nose and Jason Cumming’s roomie!
This could be the pairing we have been looking for, with a real swagger and above all quality. McBurnie has a year left of his contract but I don’t think it would take much more than it cost to sign Pena or Herrera as it doesn’t look like he has a future at Swansea.
So those are the players I would look to sign but I’m sure we won’t get any of them! If we continue the recent strategy I’m sure we will improve the squad, being smart with free transfers and spend the money on young, quality home-grown talent I’ll be happy.
We have to finish the season on a relative high to carry the momentum into next season, we all know what happened last year….
Who would you sign, and who would you let go?