For several years I have taken a keen interest in goings on at Auchenhowie, getting along to watch the youngsters whenever I can. Admittedly due to becoming a father, these opportunities are rare these days but I still like to keep up to date with goings on as best as I can.
So when I hear the training centre getting tarred as a ‘Youth department that fails consistently’ that irks me to say the least.
It is no surprise that during the turbulent years of mismanagement, Auchenhowie was neglected and the staff worked against all odds to bring players through.
But it is completely negligent to say that it is failing now. Since the new regime came in millions of pounds has been spent on coaching, facilities and recruitment at youth levels. Indeed simple research shows that it is completely untrue to say it’s ‘failing consistently’.
Craig Mulholland is credited with changing the whole entire outlook of the academy from diet to training methods. It’s worth noting that given the level of neglect, it’s only natural that it would be levels of under 16/17s where we start to see real promise. Indeed, with a proper functioning academy that conveyer belt should now continue right through to the first team.
So let’s look at what our ‘failing academy’ IS doing. A quick look at international squads at various levels is telling.
Scotland under 16s squad have 5 representatives from Rangers – Kyle McClelland, Harris O’Connor, Kai Kennedy, Ciaran Dickson, Murray Miller.
Scotland under 17s squad have 4 representatives Dapo Mabude, Nathan Paterson, Josh McPake and Zav Butterworth. Not to mention captained by our very own Billy Gilmour who is a product of our academy and destined to be a superstar. Proud to say Billy is part of my family and I have watched him grow, he has a outstanding career ahead of him.
Scotland under 19s have 7 representatives Kieran Wright, Aidan McAdams, Aidan Wilson, Glenn Middleton, Matthew Shiels, Jamie Barjonas and Zac Rudden.
Scotland under 20/21s have 4 representatives Ross and Robbie McCrorie, Liam Burt and Ryan Hardie
Northern Ireland youths include Euan Devaney, Danny Finlayson, Cammy Palmer. Finland youth team include Serge Atakayi and Myles Beerman is a regular in the Maltese full squad.
So to say Auchenhowie isn’t working is clearly playing to a narrative. Even through barren years the academy has still produced Ryan Hardie and Ross McCrorie. Ross, along with his brother Robbie, have the potential to be stars for years to come.
Indeed, for an academy ‘failing consistently to provide players for the first team it is noticeable that 9 players have featured in our first team squads – Jamie Barjonas, Liam Burt, Kyle Bradley, Aidan Wilson, Myles Beerman, Ross McCrorie, Ryan Hardie, Jordan Thompson, Jack Thomson.
The reason that our youth academy hasn’t been churning out players is actually very obvious but it is simplistic or agenda driven to write that it is failing. The future is extremely bright and recent cup wins at under 17 level show that, potentially it is the most exciting crop of graduates in a very long time.
The academy isn’t failing to produce, the fruits of hard work for the staff and the investment of this current board, IS now paying off & simple investigation shows that.
As for Mark Allen being a ‘Director of football not remotely qualified or equipped’ then that is simply ridiculous. Mark Allen has an excellent reputation in British football, indeed many credit him with the revolution of Manchester City’s Youth department where he was Football academy Director.
Where in world football would that position held mean that he is not ‘remotely qualified or equipped’ to become Director of football with us.
Mark Allen’s stock at Rangers couldn’t be higher, indeed Steven Gerrard wouldn’t be here unless Allen suggested it and a look at his January recruitment, coupled by the summer so far, show he is more than capable to carry out his job more than adequately.
If he wasn’t fit for purpose then I doubt guys like Gerrard or McAllister would even contemplate coming to work up here under him.
Indeed stick Mark Allen Manchester City into google, articles from the Telegraph to the Mail, all have glowing tributes to the man ‘Revolutionising the entire football academy system’
Ignore the nonsense, the irrelevant and the noise 🔴⚪️🔵
A huge thank you to Willy (Spatestonbear2 on twitter) who helped gather all this information above. Willy travels everywhere to watch Rangers at all levels, a huge fan of our academy if you are looking for latest news on the youths, he has all the information you need.