Rangers sporting director Ross Wilson deserves massive credit for assembling a solid Ibrox backroom team after Steven Gerrard’s exit – but even more challenges are on the immediate horizon.
The ex-Southampton sporting director passed the biggest test of his Rangers tenure to date as the well-connected and highly-regarded football man navigated the club through the post-Gerrard storm.
Rangers now sit in a comfortable position with Giovanni van Bronckhorst swiftly appointed as the club’s new manager within a week.
For the time being, the Premier Sports Cup appears the biggest casualty of Gerrard’s rapid Ibrox exit.
A figure of sizeable stature in the game, Dutchman Gio has won it all in club football and captained his country in a World Cup Final.
Not only that, but the former Ibrox midfielder’s links to the club helped make GVB the clear and obvious candidate and there was near unified agreement that Rangers should pounce.
But whilst getting the clear favourite for the job in through the door was hard enough, Wilson also had to replace the coaching structure which Gerrard took with him to Aston Villa.
Gary McAllister, Michael Beale, Tom Culshaw, Jordan Milsom and Scott Mason all left Ibrox in the shadow of the Liverpool legend.
Rangers sporting director Ross Wilson helps to navigate Steven Gerrard storm
Giovanni van Bronckhorst was initially joined by legendary former Netherlands striker Roy Makaay, fitness coach Arno Phillips and video analyst Yori Bosschart in Glasgow.
Since then, Rangers have also attracted Ajax B coach Dave Vos to the role of assistant in a move which has turned heads around football.
The highly-regarded coach joins Gio’s team after 10 years with the Dutch giants and his appointment is viewed as both an ambitious and progressive one.
Wilson – the man the club repeatedly reassured was in charge of the process – has done tremendously to help build this team and fans are quite rightly doffing their cap.
But as we enter an interesting period at Ibrox – where player turnover is surely likely given the installation of a new management team – there are challenges ahead with contracts and player trading.
Veterans like Allan McGregor, Steven Davis and Jermain Defoe will see their current deals expire come the end of the season.
Valuable assets like Joe Aribo, Ryan Kent, Alfredo Morelos and Filip Helander are only contracted for another 18 months, meaning there are two windows to sign them up or ship them out.
Much has been made of player trading at Ibrox and the club cannot afford a repeat of the tumultuous situation involving Connor Goldson, who is free to speak elsewhere next month.
But the sporting director has claimed at a recent AGM that he is relaxed about the situation as fans – who’ve learned over the years to look at the horizon – express fears.
“I get asked about this all the time,” said Wilson [Rangers].
“Player contracts, I get it, it’s a hot topic, it’s something people are excited about. We are generally really, really relaxed about where we are with our player’s contracts.
“In terms of player contracts that would expire this season there are probably three groups that I would look at.
“1 – the group of our older players, and we would always review these at the end of the season and this season is no different.
“2 – anybody who we would say they are not contributing at all, when their contract is finishing it’s safe to say that those players would depart at the end of their time here.
“3 – players whose contracts are up and are playing regularly here. We have a clear contract model, we have a clear wage structure, and anybody who signs a contract at Rangers will sign a contract within that structure.
“However, it’s also fair to say players can take their own view, they can take their own time, and if they want to take a contract which is in excess of that model that’s fine as well.
“We are really relaxed about that, we take a view of every contract on its own merits so long as it sits within our model.”
Only once in Wilson’s tenure – last season as Rangers filled out their squad and added competition to the ranks in a way which secured the title – has his recruitment been tested anywhere near as much as the next few windows threaten.
This season much has been made about the penny-pinching nature of our deals – all four of them involved no transfer fee – but ahead of the summer there may be something of an overhaul.
To either replace or sign down these majorly influential players is the set to be the biggest test on the horizon for Wilson but given his navigation of the Gerrard storm, he’s surely earned some trust to steer us through this upcoming one.
Meanwhile, Rangers scouts were reportedly in attendance in a recent Continental fixture involving a player who was linked to Ibrox last January.