What do Tomar Hemed, Craig Conway and Neil Danns all have in common? All three were targeted by Scottish champions Rangers – and all three turned them down FLAT.
After securing their 54th championship on the final day of last season, there was an expectation at Ibrox that it would just be a case of Ally McCoist stepping into Walter Smith’s shoes at the club and hitting the ground running.
However, McCoist’s Rangers tenure hasn’t exactly went to plan so far – despite the initial feel good factor of Craig Whyte’s takeover of the club earlier in the summer.
Israeli striker Hemed, 24, – singled out by McCoist as the first signing of his new regime – opted for the sunnier climate, and healthier wage packet, at Spanish cracks Real Mallorca rather than a shot at Champions League football.
Then, joining Hemed during a frustrating start to the transfer window, were former Dundee United winger Conway, 26, and former Crystal Palace midfielder Danns, 28. Once again both turned down Rangers – this time more surprisingly for the English Championship, at Cardiff City and Leicester City respectively.
All of this – coupled with the fact that Rangers’ bids for Scotland stars David Goodwillie and Lee Wallace were thrown out by both of their respective clubs – means it’s not been a happy first few weeks for McCoist.
Even within their own camp it seems things are not all rosy. Steven Whittaker – arguably the club’s best player last season – has turned down a contract offer which was described by the player’s agent as being “substantially improved”. Rangers themselves have turned down three offers for Whittaker from Turkish side Bursaspor as they struggle to hold on to the versatile defender.
Instead ‘Gers fans – who had been preparing for the unleashing of Whyte’s millions to fund their transfer “war chest” in a bid for four-in-a-row – have so far had to console themselves with the contract renewals of Salim Kerkar and David Healy. Not exactly something to write home about.
To put that into perspective, as Rangers threadbare squad battled their way to the title last season, Algerian Kerkar was the forgotten man, only being seen once as a substitute in the 5-0 win over Motherwell at Fir Park. In terms of Healy, he’d have been as well not being at Ibrox at all. His Rangers career reads; ten games played, one solitary goal.
As Kerkar and Healy are signed up once more, why the likes of Hemed, Conway and Danns turned down Rangers is anyone’s guess. There are strong rumours that they refused the SPL challenge at Ibrox because they could pick up a few extra pounds elsewhere. If this is indeed the case – coupled with Celtic securing the signing of Kenyan Victor Wanyama and about to tie up the signing of Israeli Omar Demari this week – it’s quite feasible to crown Rangers as the new owners of the infamous “biscuit tin”.
Although there is still a long way to go in the transfer window, Craig Whyte – deemed Rangers’ knight in shining armour after single-handedly saving the club from imminent administration earlier this summer – will soon have to open his, seemingly, bulging wallet. Since taking over the reigns at Ibrox, he has appeased supporters by promising to continue the Govan club’s recent success.
However, by publicly revealing McCoist’s transfer targets and then failing to deliver, he has continually set himself and the club up for a fall when those targets then turn him down.
Whyte has promised a lot in his early tenure as Rangers chairman. However, if one more transfer target turns the club down so publicly for the likes of a Leicester or a Cardiff, Rangers’ fans might just decide it’s time for him to “put up or shut up”.
Written by Joseph O’Brien