Ibrox roars in the sun / Academy set for player revamp

Rangers thrashed Celtic in an old firm which many recognised was a dead rubber, but it was still a pleasing afternoon.

It doesn’t change anything, it certainly doesn’t change the summer plans for recruitment but one or two may just have fired their way into Michael Beales plans just a bit more. Try telling Robby McCrorie, Ridvan Yilmaz, John Souttar, Nico Raskin or Todd Cantwell that the game didn’t mean anything. All of whom put a marker down in terms of performance.

Cantwell continued his fine form with a dominant display, dominating Callum McGregor solidly for the game and stopping Celtic from building any sort of momentum. The midfielder stamped his authority all over the game with a powerful finish and sublime touches, the crowd have very much taken to him already. Nico Raskin, flanked by the impressive Ryan Jack and John Lundstram, also put in his best performance in a Rangers jersey, biting into everything and pressing the ball in a style we haven’t seen in a very long time.

There is enough to be sure that one more midfielder, of equal ability, would make that a very strong position for the club. John Souttar proved he is more than capable, looking solid unsurprisingly next to Connor Goldson who remains the glue that holds it altogether. Robby McCrorie continued his form with another clean sheet, but impressive in speed off the line and handling with one outstanding save to his top left from O’Riley which was goal bound.

Then there is Ridvan at left back, tenacious in the challenge and proved to be strong defensively. He was caught a few times early by runs but adjusted and put in a very sound performance. I’m on record as saying I’m yet to be convinced and perhaps even if money comes in we may do a deal there. A few more performances like that and any doubts will quickly diminish.

All that on a tactical footing which saw Beale arguably get it right again but this time he wasn’t let down by horrible moments or lapses costing goals. Every Old Firm has been close so far but won on moments, this time it went our way. I happen to think there is enough to be positive going forward on all evidence available, that when Beale gets the players he wants we can perform well in these games. Don’t forget he’s had to manage a broken squad without a firing front line, in the summer he will rectify that.

So overall it was pleasing, a few positives and a chance for a smile in the sun. It doesn’t change anything about the season and yes they may very well have been in second gear but that’s their issue not ours. We have been told long enough that our squad wouldn’t even get on their reserve bench.

But for Beale and some individual players they have done theirselves no harm at all but this must become a norm and when it truly matters. Enough there to be sure, with confidence, that come the summer that may just be possible.

There has been plenty of change since John Bennett took over as Chairman and James Bisgrove began his integration into being Rangers new CEO. Several heads of departments are gone and Rangers have begun the process of identifying new candidates to replace them.

It had become clear that there was a general feeling of malaise within the club, a feeling that ‘it’s always been done this way’ with no appetite to explore more efficient options. That is something I have long spoken about on this platform but it gets lost in rants when the team aren’t winning then you get accused of a scattergun approach. I’m also not there day to day which the chairman has been and been able to see first hand.

As for the B team, a post by Ibrox Chat on released players (credit to them) on twitter got me thinking and had a look at what was happening with the youth squads.

Craig Mulholland, head of the academy has tendered his resignation (well known) and there has been no formal confirmation yet of positions below him including B team manager David McCallum.

The club have strongly denied any suggestion Harry Watling is taking over that position.

However there is various players set to leave the academy set up. As many as over twenty players could be leaving the club or have their futures to discuss.

Players believed to be out of contract and futures undecided (to be confirmed by the club) include Robbie Ure, Tony Weston, Charlie Lindsay, Alex Kpakpe, Kelsey Ewen, Harley Ewen, Kevin Ciubotaru, Lewis MacKinnon, Zak McKay, Souleyman Mandey & Christian Mulindwa.

Players Rangers are said to want to keep and being offered contracts are believed to include Lewis Budinauckas, Arron Lyall, Jamie Newton, Kristian Webster & Greig Allen.

Kai Kennedy, Murray Miller & Kane Ritchie-Hosler, who were out on loan, are all out on contract. Rangers still have Lewis Mayo, Ben Williamson & Josh McPake who have 1 year left but could well move on with very little chance of seeing first team football at Rangers.

Whilst it’s well known the first team are set for a clear out, the numbers moving on from the B team could easily be well into double figures also and the club will also need to clarify a lot of players futures.

With a new academy director coming in change is upon us in the academy.

It’s interesting because Rangers have a number of changes to staff, heads of departments and the turn over in players throughout levels looks to be substantial. The club have a real opportunity to reinvent itself and add a new level of enthusiasm throughout.

Personally, I’m very optimistic about the future under John Bennett and James Bisgrove. I welcome the decisions made so far and hopefully we see a vibrant football club in time with people hired to bring positive enthusiasm to the club.

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