Over the last five years under Craig Mulholland, the Rangers Academy side’s have built up a phenomenal reputation after a massive overhaul almost every aspect of the club’s development programme.
From Graeme Murty’s under-20/Colt team all the way through the various age groups, the Light Blues have brought in some of the best coaches and adopted methods used by the most successful clubs around the planet.
Young Rangers sides have around the world and taken on – and beaten – some of the very best youth sides around and gained a stellar reputation with their contemporaries and fans alike.
But for some reason, there seems to be a glass ceiling when it comes to them becoming regular members of the first-team squad.
Chelsea wonderkid Billy Gilmour is the obvious high-water mark for players coming through, although had he stuck around at Ibrox rather than moved to Stamford Bridge he SURELY would have broken through.
However, there are so many examples of young players who have been right on the cusp of getting their chance before disappearing from sight.
#RangersFC can today announce the departure of Ross McCrorie to Aberdeen.
McCrorie heads to Pittodrie on-loan for the remainder of the campaign with the deal becoming permanent at the end of the season for an undisclosed fee.
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) August 17, 2020
McCrorie’s fall from grace is even more baffling when you consider how he lost his place in the team in the first place after once being named a ‘future captain’ by Gerrard.
After impressing in the starting XI, Gerrard insisted the jersey was his despite an upcoming suspension for a Scottish Cup clash with Cowdenbeath.
By the time the Blue Brazil were eliminated, McCrorie ‘s time as a first-team regular was over – and nobody really knows why.
He’s not the only one, Josh McPake was the golden boy for a fleeting moment after a string of fantastic performances for the Academy teams and Kai Kennedy, Stevie Kelly, Lewis Mayo, Jamie Barjonas, and Glenn Middleton have all found themselves in similar positions.
All have shone in the second string but when given a chance in the first-team, it seems that no matter what they do they’ll quickly be discarded.
What’s also worrying about it all is that, having followed the Colts, in particular, quite closely over the last four years all of these players have the attributes needed to have a future at the club and become first-team regulars.
Whether the issue is bridging that gap between Academy and first-team football or the expectation on the players being too high once they first make the step up, Rangers need to figure out how to get these players into regular positions in the first-team squad.
If they can’t, even players will start to question what the point of the Academy is.