Nikica Jelavic is beginning what he hopes will be a burgeoning managerial career with the former Rangers striker admitting that he would relish the opportunity to become the boss of Ibrox somewhere down the line.
There was a time, few years back, when hiring former players appeared to be all the rage. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United, for instance. Frank Lampard at Chelsea, Andrea Pirlo at Juventus, Giovanni van Bronckhorst at Rangers.
With the benefit of hindsight, however, it appears that ‘knowing the club’ is no substitute for an elite tactical mind. Van Bronckhorst returned to Glasgow as a fans’ favourite but departed a disappointment; that run to the Europa League final undermined by underwhelming domestic form and a Champions League group-stage campaign which made history for all the wrong reasons.
So if Jelavic does find himself in the Rangers dugout in the future, it should be because the 37-year-old Croatian has proven himself to be an expert tactician, rather than because of any previous relations with a powerhouse of Scottish football.
Nikica Jelavic keen to become Rangers manager in the future
Jelavic, after hanging up his boots in 2021, has already obtained a UEFA A licence. He recently kick-started his coaching journey with Lokomotiv Zagreb’s U19 side.
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“In our club, we are trying to keep (the young players) focused on developing. Nothing else,” Jelavic tells Sky Sports. “We produce and we sell. We know what we have to do to survive.”
Given that so many clubs operate on a buy-low, sell-high policy these days – Rangers among them – Jelavic’s emerging reputation as a developer of young talent should stand him in good stead.
“Listen, you never know in the future,” adds Jelavic, who won the Scottish Premiership title in 20211 before embarking upon spells at Everton, West Ham United and Hull City.
“Definitely, (returning to a former club as manager) would be great. Especially Rangers and Everton. With both of these two clubs I really have special memories.”
Jelavic worked with Goodiosn Park legend David Moyes on Merseyside and the late, great Walter Smith at Ibrox. As far as inspirations go, you’d be hard pressed to find many better.
“Those two guys are the top,” Jelavic adds. “Walter was like a really proper gentleman and he brought me to Rangers. He helped me a lot with advice with everything. David Moyes, the same, and I was happy to be part of their clubs.”