Glasgow Rangers clinched three in a row after a quickfire demolition of Kilmarnock on Sunday. Walter Smith’s men were three-nil up inside 6 minutes as they clinched the SPL Trophy as the perfect parting gift to their outgoing manager in what may very well be his last game in charge.
What a difference a month makes! Just a few weeks ago, the future of Rangers looked extremely bleak. Celtic appeared to be strong favourites for the title, the club was seriously contemplating the possibility of administration and it looked like a
number of star players would be sold in the summer. Fast forward a month and the future suddenly looks a lot more rosy in the wake of the Craig Whyte takeover. The 2011/12 Rangers home shirt was released this week and suddenly it looks like a jersey which might have it’s best players playing for it after all.
While Celtic certainly threw away the title both with Georgios Samaras penalty miss at Ibrox and the 3-2 defeat at Inverness, credit where credit is due to Rangers as they have absolutely blown away their opponents in recent weeks. Hearts and Dundee United had four put past them while Kilmarnock were ripped apart in the opening minutes on Sunday by a rampant Rangers side.
However, despite the euphoria sweeping Ibrox this week, new manager Ally McCoist will be under no illusions that he has a huge rebuilding job on his hands this summer. With a number of loan stars returning to their parent clubs, Davie Weir contemplating retirement and Madjid Bougherra likely to be sold, McCoist is going to need a number of reinforcements to beef up his patched up squad.
While Craig Whyte will make funds available, these will remain limited and will not be of a level to completely overhaul the Rangers squad. Key to his success therefore could well be clever use of the loan market. The first thing I would do as Rangers manager would be to secure the services of Kyle Bartley for another year. The youngster couldn’t get himself anywhere near the Arsenal team this year and is unlikely to be wearing the new Arsenal shirt next season after the return of Thomas Vermaelen from injury and the necessary dip into the transfer market by Arsene Wenger.
However, he did show signs of being a very promising defender and could be an excellent addition to the Rangers squad. Other names heavily linked with Rangers include David Goodwillie, Alexei Eremenko and Lee Wallace. None of those players are at the level Rangers have been accustomed to in recent years, but are proven quality at SPL level and will offer relatively low-cost additions to what is already a strong core squad.
The biggest decision Walter Smith made this season was to go for quality over quantity and while Celtic had a strong squad in-depth, they had very little actual quality in key areas. While Rangers definitely need an increase in bodies, focusing on making a few shrewd signings and bringing through the cream of the crop from the youth squad is the way forward for McCoist’s new era.
Written by Eddie Smith | www.footballshirtblog.co.uk/