Rangers Rebuild Begins with New Managerial Appointment

Rangers have appointed Mark Warburton as their new manager (Image from Getty)After the dust had settled on a disappointing season that saw Rangers failing to get out of the Championship at the first attempt, focus has swiftly turned towards next season and with it comes the news of a new managerial team hand picked to bring glory back to the troubled Ibrox outfit. Former Brentford boss Mark Warburton and his trusty assistant David Weir will be trooped out in front of the waiting media today as Rangers new board takes its first steps towards rebuilding the club. Warburton arrives to a mixed reaction from the Rangers faithful who were still largely enamored by stand in boss and former player Stuart McCall.

Despite his best efforts, Stuart McCall failure in getting Rangers promotion cost him the job  (Image from Getty)

Despite his best efforts, Stuart McCall failure in getting Rangers promotion cost him the job
(Image from Getty)

However after being parachuted in by the board to steady the ship and seal promotion, McCall only managed to get this sinking ship over the line, falling at the last hurdle to Motherwell in a rather pointless relegation/promotion showdown double episode. That defeat convinced many at Ibrox that major surgery was needed on both the playing staff and the coaching setup with perhaps for the first time in the clubs history a need to distance itself from its past tendencies to appoint former legends like McCall to save the day. He will have known at the time that defeat in the playoffs against his former side Motherwell would seal his fate however in typical McCall style he came out fighting and made a valid pitch for the job full time. That pitch was convincing and will have likely sparked debate at the boardroom level. But the sentiment towards McCall as a player for the club may have been his downfall with a fresh approach much needed. In Warburton, Rangers can get that freshness whilst maintaining a link to the clubs past through his assistant, David Weir. Like McCall, Weir is an Ibrox legend, a captain fantastic who surprised many in Scottish and world football by playing well into his forties with the same tenacity and spirit that he possessed as a kid some twenty years before. At Rangers Weir was the most respected man on and off the pitch at the club for a long time and many tout him as a future manager but for now they will settle for him as the assistant to Warburton. The new manager will need Weir’s insider knowledge of both Rangers and Scottish football if he is to settle in quickly and have the best chance of success.

David Weir will be an important part of the new backroom team  (image from Steve Parkin)

David Weir will be an important part of the new backroom team
(image from Steve Parkin)

However the challenge that awaits Warburton and Weir is nothing less than daunting. They inherit a skeleton  playing staff that lacks both in numbers and quality. Many of the faces from last years disaster campaign have gone – Boyd, Moshni, Foster, Daly and McCulloch with a few others eyeing the exit door with enthusiasm. There will be cash available to invest in players but it won’t be the amount that Rangers fans are used to seeing. The days of frivolous spending that saw Rangers wasted vast sums of money on the likes of Tore Andre Flo and Michael Ball are long gone. The focus will be on building for the future, investing in players who can not only compete in the Championship but also in the Scottish Premiership in the foreseeable future. Youth players will play a pivotal role in the clubs forward success especially given Warburton’s background in nurturing talent. Unfortunately for him that talent will not be coming out of the clubs youth system at Murray Park for a while as that well has all but dried up by now. The last prodigal son to come through that system was Lewis McLeod who ironically was sold to Brentford just as he began to stamp his authority on the Ibrox turf. Others have emerged since then like Tom Walsh and Ryan Hardie but have yet to really establish themselves as indispensable components of the Rangers machine. Warburton will have to look beyond Murray Park in search of young talent and again unfortunately will hit a snag. With no scouting network in operation at Rangers, the work will fall on Warburton, Weir and his coaching staff initially until a chief scout can be identified and brought in to help.

The days of overspending on players like Flo are over for Rangers  (Image from AP)

The days of overspending on players like Flo are over for Rangers
(Image from AP)

Building a squad capable of challenging is one thing but building one that can do so in under four weeks is another. Rangers pre-season training kicks off in earnest in early July with their first Championship match due on August 8th. Warburton will start the rebuild immediately but it will be time that will be his biggest opponent as he battles to get Rangers ready for the new season. The pressure on Warburton and Weir will be immense but the duo who led Brentford to the English Championship play offs only 18 months after taking charge should be able to handle it. Only time will tell whether Warburton can steer Rangers back to the Scottish Premiership and back challenging for the top Scottish honours once more.

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What Next For Rangers As McCoist Resigns

More turmoil at Ibrox (Image from Wikipedia)The resignation of Rangers manager Ally McCoist has been formally acknowledged by the club on the stock exchange leading fans and shareholders to wonder what next for the troubled boss. McCoist letter of resignation was in direct response to the dismissal of key long standing non playing personnel at the club despite reassurances weeks earlier that this would not happen. It was the straw that broke the camels back for the manager who has steered the club through some of its darkest hours including administration and relegation to Scotland’s lowest professional footballing tier.

What next for McCoist?  (Image from Getty)

What next for McCoist?
(Image from Getty)

His formal notice is 12 months in length leaving the club and its owners with a difficult decision to make – pay off McCoist now or let him run out his contract. Normally the obvious resolution would be to cut ties and end the association quickly so that both parties could move on but for cash strapped Rangers paying off McCoist may not be possible. With a severance payment due of around £400,000 it will ultimately come down to chairman Sandy Easdale and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, who now controls 9% of the club to put up the cash to pay off McCoist. The board is set to meet with McCoist tomorrow to discuss next steps with the likely outcome that the manager will be allowed to leave sooner rather than later in order to protect the clubs chances of getting back into the Premiership.  In recent weeks in the lead up to him handing in his notice, several members of the board have been vocally opposed to McCoist remaining in charge. Results on the pitch have not been good enough considering the talent at the manager’s disposal and the club is at risk of going backwards once more. A change now may stop this rot and hand Rangers back the emphasis needed to get them back on track and challenging for promotion once more.

Decision maker Mike Ashley  (Image from Getty)

Decision maker Mike Ashley
(Image from Getty)

Once McCoist has formally left, the task of hiring a new manager will be undertaken. The good news for Rangers fans is that the early front runners being considered for the job are all former Rangers players. Stuart McCall played for the club during its most successful era, quickly becoming a fan favourite at the heart of the midfield. The tough tackling no nonsense McCall would be seen as an ideal replacement given how he performed in the manager’s role at Motherwell in recent years.  With limited funds and resources, McCall turned Motherwell into title contenders and the hope would be that under similar circumstances he could do the same at Rangers.

McCall could replace McCoist in the Rangers hotseat  (Image from Rob Casey Photography)

McCall could replace McCoist in the Rangers hotseat
(Image from Rob Casey Photography)

Terry Butcher was also part of that team as part of a defensive rearguard alongside Richard Gough. During his time with the club, Butcher gave no less than 100% in every appearance he made earning himself a slot in the clubs illustrious history. As a manager, Englishman Butcher has chalked up over 24 years of experience at clubs across the UK including stints at Inverness, Hibernian and Motherwell in Scotland as well as spells in England with Sunderland, Brentford and Coventry. He also had short stays with Sydney FC in Australia and as assistant manager for Scotland under the ill fated George Burley reign.

Butcher is a front runner for the job  (Image from Getty)

Butcher is a front runner for the job
(Image from Getty)

Whilst his stay at Ibrox was limited to only 13 games over seven years at the very beginning of his playing career , Billy Davies still holds a special place in his heart for Rangers. The former Motherwell, Derby and Nottingham Forest boss has thrown his hat into the ring and has been spotted at Ibrox recently watching some games. All three candidates present different managerial styles but all have at least one thing in common – a shared passion for the club.

Billy Davies is keen on the role  (Image from PA)

Billy Davies is keen on the role
(Image from PA)

Whoever lands the role will not be in for an easy ride. Turmoil off the pitch continues with power squabbles now on a daily basis and with the SFA launching yet another investigation into its ownership. On the pitch, the players lack belief that promotion is possible. The squad is more than capable of doing so but until they regain it, they will likely continue to languish in the Championship.

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Weir Steps Into The Management Fold At Sheffield United

New Job? David Weir (Image from Getty)It was only a matter of time before former Everton, Rangers and Scotland legend David Weir took his first steps into management. Having had a distinguished career that saw him play at the highest level all the way up to his 39th birthday, Weir hung up his boots only a few years ago and rejoined Everton as Reserve team coach. During that time, he impressed the clubs hierarchy with his professionalism and strict approach to coaching, so much so that following the departure of David Moyes to Manchester United; Weir was one of the front runners interviewed to replace him. That job eventually went to former Wigan boss, Roberto Martinez but made Weir ponder his future and think more about taking that step into management.

Weir played for Rangers until he was 39  (Image from Getty)

Weir played for Rangers until he was 39
(Image from Getty)

When the vacancy at Sheffield United became an distinct possibility, Weir  knew that this may be his first opportunity to take the hot seat. The League One club has been in a slide for the past decade and see Weir as the man to turn things around. The Blades had been without a manager for eight weeks after sacking Danny Wilson who failed to get the club out of the division and have interviewed several candidates such as Stuart McCall, Gareth Southgate and Karl Robinson, but the trio all turned down the job. Weir by no regards was the last chance saloon for the club with other potential candidates mentioned, but they decided that they didn’t need to continue their search and instead gave Weir the nod by handed him a three year deal.

Weir learned from the best in Smith  (Image from AFP)

Weir learned from the best in Smith
(Image from AFP)

His appointment won’t come as a surprise to many who have tipped Weir as a future manager for some time now. Having learned from two of the best managers in the game; Walter Smith and David Moyes, Weir has soaked up their knowledge like a sponge. The 43 year old former captain possesses a deep knowledge of the game from tactics to player motivation tools to fitness and nutrition, which helped him to prolong his career at Rangers. Sheffield United will be hoping he can use all of his acquired skills to turn around the troubled club, kick them into shape and send them on a path towards promotion back to the Championship.

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Icon Returns For Motherwell’s Champions League Push

James McFaddenWith Rangers now languishing in the lowest league in Scotland, the door has been thrown wide open for the rest of the Premier League teams to challenge Celtic for the title. The current Scottish champions are already running away with the league after opening up a sizable 18 point gap between themselves and the chasing pack. Closest to them in second place is Motherwell, who strengthened their squad yesterday with the return of the iconic James McFadden. The Scotland striker has been without a club since leaving Sunderland early last month and has signed a deal with the North Lanarkshire club until the end of this season. In a deal that never looked likely to happen, due to McFadden’s legacy wage demands, it would appear as though the player has backed down in order to secure consistent first team football. Its a win win situation for both parties as Motherwell push to cement their current position and McFadden attempts to get his career back on track.

Up and Coming - McFadden during his first spell at Motherwell (Image from STV)

Up and Coming – McFadden during his first spell at Motherwell
(Image from STV)

At only 29 years old, McFadden shouldn’t be back at his first club, but instead terrorising defenders in the English premiership or a league of similar stature, as he did during the early part of his twenties. Unfortunately, like Scottish compatriot Craig Gordon, this talented player’s career has been ruined by long term injuries that has limited his playing time. Without regular on field exposure, clubs have had little faith that McFadden is still the player he was and has resulted in him being released by Birmingham, then Everton and most recently Sunderland. Its a vicious cycle that many a professional has had to face and is hard to correct without the player demonstrating that he is beyond the injury problems that have hindered him. Some take to more innovative methods to prove they are worth a contract. Owen Hargreaves, a free agent after leaving Manchester United in the summer of 2011,  posted YouTube videos in a bid to convince potential suitors of his fitness, which was enough to convince Manchester City to sign the player on a short term deal. McFadden’s move to Motherwell shows a sign of faith from the club that McFadden’s injury worries are behind him.

Hargreaves took to YouTube to show his Fitness (Image from Youtube)

Hargreaves took to YouTube to show his Fitness
(Image from Youtube)

McFadden will be hoping that his injury troubles are behind him as well, as he looks to kick-start his career again. Once the first name on the Scotland team sheet and seen as a legend in the dark blue by the fans, McFadden will be hoping he can regain the form he once had and force his way into new boss Gordon Strachan’s long term plans. The new Scotland boss would love to have the old McFadden back to his best and will be monitoring the players progress at Motherwell with interest as he looks to potentially call up the player who last starred for his country in February 2012. Criticised by former boss Craig Levein in that game for his poor attitude and performance, McFadden will want to wipe the slate clean and show the Scottish faithful that he can still be a match winner for them as he had done in the past. But first he needs to play regularly for Motherwell and put in the type of displays that the club grew to expect during his first stint at the club.

McFadden scores a wonder goal against France (Image from PA)

McFadden scores a wonder goal against France
(Image from PA)

It was in the summer of 2000 that a young 17 year old James McFadden burst onto the Scottish football season, in stunning fashion. Not since Davie Cooper had the Motherwell fans been so excited by a player in the claret jersey. The combination of high octane pace, close control and undeniable brashness made McFadden an instant favourite with the home support. Within a season, McFadden was picking up the countries Young Player of the Year award and gaining a reputation as the most exciting prospect to come out of Scotland in a decade. Before long, McFadden was moving to England’s top flight with a move to Everton, where he stayed for five years, making himself into a useful component in manager David Moyes plans. A £5 million move to Birmingham followed but unfortunately for McFadden, it was at St Andrews that the problems with his right knee started. His troublesome right knee has dogged the player ever since and failed moves to Everton and Sunderland, have eventually led the player back home to Scotland.

McFadden's time at Birmingham was blighted with injury (Image from Action)

McFadden’s time at Birmingham was blighted with injury
(Image from Action)

Motherwell don’t necessarily need McFadden but the player will be welcomed into the squad regardless. Manager Stuart McCall has built an impressive team on an extremely tight budget but still lacks that x factor needed to win the title. Motherwell sit in second place on merit and whilst they have scored regularly in games, their over reliance on striker Michael Higdon has not gone unnoticed. His 17 goals this year have secured more points for the club than any other player, with only three others in the squad scoring more than one goal all season. McFadden in his first spell with the club averaged a goal every second game so McCall will be hoping that he can pick up where he left off and help push Motherwell closer to that lucrative second place finish and a shot at the Champions league. If McFadden regains his form and fitness, it is unlikely that Motherwell will be able to hold on to him beyond the summer as the player still has a good four to five years left to play. It’s a big if at this stage as McFadden hasn’t played competitively for some time now and will need to step up if he is get back to his best. McFadden knows his career is not over yet and now is his chance to get it back on track and once again become a player who sends fear down the spine of opposition defenders the world over.

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