With our upcoming visit to Dens this Friday night and a all to familiar face in the opposite dugout I feel its only right we pay him the service and respect I personally feel Neil McCann is due.
In every managers tenure there has been players that have flown under the radar, players that have provided pound for pound value and played a vital role in that squads success. This week let me take you back if I may to a time where the Cher ruled the airwaves with her electronic and at the time futuristic hit believe, Apple was still a terrible computer you had in schools and more importantly Rangers were on the up after having having appointed the Dutchman Duck Advocaaat in the summer in order to get back to winning ways.
That summer has seen a exodus of stars leave from the record goal scorer in Ally Mccoist our captain Richard Gough the goalie Andy Goram and the ” why are you so good” Dane Brian Laudrup all move on in total over 10 first team players would leave creating a void that had to be filled.
Advocaat set about shaping his team buying mostly foreign imports like his countrymen Arthur Numan and GioVan Bronckhorst , French world cup winner Stephane Guivarc’h, the ageing Scotland captain Colin Hendry and the Argentinean Gabriel Amato and who can forget the ex Man Utd star Andrei Kanchelskis all these players arrived with heavy price tags of in excess of 4 million and while some proved to be very good buys others did not. However it is perhaps the other less flashy and more cost effective signings that proved every bit as valuable.
Many people argue at this time Rod Wallace was without doubt our best pound for pound singing and while I understand his vital goals and the fact he cost nothing in transfer fees make a strong case for this, however he was only at our club for total of 3 seasons,a case could also be made for the signings of Stefan Klos and Cluadio Reyna who I could best describe as a Steve Davis type of player a tireless worker who helped free up the more expressive players at the club chipping in with a few vital goals as well.
However I would like to make the case or at the very least pay my respects to Neil McCann a player who at the time of singing was thought as nothing more than a squad filler only signed in part due to the fact he was home grown. We could not all have been so wrong.
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After arriving from Hearts for a fee of around 1.9 million McCann set about staking a claim for a regular place in the side McCann was not a unfamiliar face to us supporters but in time when felt we could buy who we wanted taking players off Hearts was seen as neither flashy or gained the headlines the same it would today.
McCann’s career up until the move had seen him star for Dundee and more famously win the Scottish cup the previous season with Hearts in what we thought at the time would be Walter Smith’s final game in charge, however it is another cup final that I began to take note of the winger.
In the Coca Cola cup final at Celtic Park two years previous McCann had tore a future Rangers captain in Craig Moore(albeit playing at right back) apart, setting up both John Robertson and Davie Weir for Hearts goals Neil McCann was more than holding his own on a park that had the likes of Gascoinge and Laudrup.
McCann will always be best remembered for the two goals he scored in securing the league title at Parkhead and rightly so, but he was far more than just they goals, the assists he provided throughout his time at the club and his delivery of the ball was second to none.
McCann was not the type of winger who had to beat his man every time or conduct show pony skills like standing on the ball as his peers, no his quality was in the delivery, on the pace of the ball accuracy and ease at which he picked advancing forwards with precise timing.
My only criticism during his time at Ibrox would be of his finishing, missing big chances in European games with Galatasary and Feyenoord that could have made a huge difference in our quest to qualify further into Europe at the respective stages and competition’s .
McCann survived through despite all the overturn in playing staff into the McLeish era proving a even more valuable asset to big eck only being sold to Southampton when the powers that be deemed him a saleable asset.
All and all for a player who arrived with not a load of fanfare and left having helped deliver 3 titles ,4 Scottish cups and 2 league cups 1.9 million represents a good bit of business and one I hope we can all applaud even just for a second as he walks out the tunnel to face us.
In more recent years McCann has gained praise in his work for Sky Sports, providing a honest and frank assessment of games that so many ex pros also on TV fail to display. After taking the Dundee job last season leaving the comfort of the Sky studio behind in the process, McCann kept the dark blues up playing a expansive brand of football in a bold move that shows his character.
While I in no way wish his team to take anything from the game on Friday night I think we know how tough a task it will be for this Rangers side. Both sets of fans can surely unite in the wish maybe one day they will have a player that proved such great value and service as Neil McCann.