I’m something of a keen chess player. I’ve never been able to spend the time studying the game that I’d have liked. That’s mainly because I’d never be good enough to make that a worthwhile investment at this stage of my life.
One of the central tenets of chess is to make your move on the assumption that your opponent will play the strongest response available. You may know they’re prone to mistakes, or just have a gut feeling they can’t see your planned attack, but you can never play to that belief. Plan for the strongest response, and set up accordingly.
And that’s the approach Rangers need to take as they make their move for their next manager.
There’s a healthy debate among the fans as to the best approach for the club with regards the next manager. Many feel that we need someone who knows the club, a British manager with knowledge of the game in this country. Others don’t think that’s necessary and advocate names like Preud’homme or Ten Hag. These are managers with strong achievements outside of the British game, and their CVs are impressive. They’re seen as more of a risk by most, but I think it’s fair to say that any choice is a risk.
So where should we go? It’s our move, and King is in the country to make it.
The first thing you have to ask is just what is the aim. What move would represent the strongest chance to achieve our goals? What is the strategy?
The only way every fan could be satisfied is if we somehow overturn Celtic in the near future and win the league. No matter who we hire, some will be unhappy at the seeming direction of the club due to said appointment. Right now, Rangers are facing a bigger challenge than ever when it comes to matching our greatest rivals. There’s no way we can say with absolute authority that we should stop them winning 10 titles in a row. We certainly should aim for it, and hope to do it, but expecting it is unfair given the relative positions of both clubs.
And this is where the approach mentioned above kicks in. Our aim of being best in Scotland again isn’t about focusing on what Celtic do, but it’s certainly affected by it. It’s our move, and we need to assume that they will be just as strong, or even stronger, as we look to overhaul them. We simply can’t say “well, the only way is down for that lot”, because it’s certainly not guaranteed.
In that case, I’m full of the belief that the time isn’t right for Derek McInnes to be our manager. If Celtic are going to stay as strong or improve, we won’t be able to be better for a while yet. McInnes is certainly an accomplished manager, but he’ll need a squad on par or better than Celtic to beat them consistently. That would apply to the vast majority of managers, so it’s no damning indictment of him. It’s simply how football tends to work.
For me, we need to look for someone who has proven to get more from his squads than he should. That man, who it would seem is interested in the job, is Michel Preud’homme. Over the years, he’s managed sides with varying levels of expectation to results and trophies which were unexpected. When people spoke about Club Brugge in recent years, they would describe their biggest strength as their coach. That’s high praise for any manager, especially one who had some good players in his team. He’s proven numerous times, in different countries, that he can exceed expectations, and would bring a lot of experience and contacts with him.
When it comes to judging who the club should go for, the nationality of the manager shouldn’t even be in the top five things considered. Unfortunately, the results Pedro brought, and Le Guen being in recent memory, have made that possibly the biggest issue to many. There’s a suggestion that we “can’t afford another experiment”. That argument is flawed. In philosophical terms, it Begs the Question. It assumes the truth of its position to prove its position. There are no guarantees that another experiment will fail just because the last one did. Just imagine applying that approach to any real-life situation!
Hiring Preud’homme would not in any way resemble the hiring of Pedro Caixinha. The latter had a mixed amount of success in various countries. The former is a top coach, respected by most in the game and known for getting more from his teams than they should be capable of. It also wouldn’t be like when we hired Le Guen. His CV was impressive, but it was all at one club and subsequent jobs have shown he isn’t a top-class coach. Any manager coming in will also be taking the job in a far stronger position than we were back then, with a better footballing structure and more focus on youth development. We wouldn’t be signing three players from a club in administration in Europe because we can’t afford the top targets, for example.
I write all of this full in the belief that our next manager will be Derek McInnes. If Celtic are to be the target, and they’re going to be as difficult to beat as they are just now, I don’t think McInnes will improve us as much as Preud’homme would, even if we’re only going to finish second for a while. Of course, I hope to be completely wrong about that if the expected appointment occurs. The above is ultimately just my opinion, and a justification for that – I’m not trying to claim some sort of superior knowledge or the likes.
Who would be your choice for our next manager? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk with your thoughts!