The Mark Warburton debacle tarred Rangers as a football club. The messy, public parting of ways with the man who had guided them promotion was handled so poorly it left it hard to imagine them as serious contenders to Celtic’s Scottish Premier League crown. That’s before you've even glanced at the table.
Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic side are 33 points ahead of their Old Firm rivals. Two league losses on the bounce have seen Rangers fall behind Aberdeen and they are now just five points ahead of fourth-placed Hearts and six ahead of St. Johnstone in fifth. Outsiders looking in consider the managerless Gers to be a bit of a joke figure in Scottish football right now.
Their insistence to hire a director of football before appointing a new manager has led to ridicule from certain members of the media. One of the biggest clubs in Scotland are biding their time while the campaign is still underway and they are suffering because of it.
But it’s those with a short-termism view who won’t see the big picture. They won’t see how this careful approach from what has been at times a reckless ownership could be what gets the club back on track in the long-term.
It could see the blue half of Glasgow rivalling those in green for silverware on a regular basis.
It’s potentially their rebirth.
After the parting of ways with Warburton it gave Rangers an ideal opportunity. It gave them the chance to get their house in order and have the structure they want in place before the season comes to an end. It may be prematurely admitting defeat but they weren't ever going to challenge Celtic this season. It's very much a short-term pain for long-term benefit sort of idea.
Why the need for a director of football?
The rigours of modern day football mean it’s rare that a manager is able to build a legacy at one club. If Rangers are to continuously topple Celtic then it will be pieced together over a number of years and will require time.
But patience isn’t in the vocabulary of owners these days and managers are basically just as good as their last result. Take Claudio Ranieri for example, the former Leicester City coach did the unprecedented last season by winning the Premier League but was sacked before the conclusion of the club’s Champions League campaign. That’s how quickly the tide can turn on those in charge.
In years gone by sacking a manager was a laborious task. The manager would leave and their staff would follow enabling a new man to come in with his own people and his new ideas. There would be a period of transition from top to bottom. This was a never-ending cycle and cost teams millions due to the fact each manager would have a different idea of how to play and they would need certain players to execute those plans.
Being perpetually in transition is a poor way to run a business.
A director of football puts an end to that. Here’s there to ensure the club isn’t building on quicksand.They are given creative control from first-team to the academy. He’s the constant and the man the owners back to bring their vision for the club to life.
Why a director of football makes sense for Rangers
The Rangers board will outline their expectations and the director of football will execute them. It’s the perfect way of getting everybody on the same page and making sure upheaval throughout the club is kept to a minimum.
Under Warburton one of the complaints from fans was just poor the club's record was in the transfer market. The manager, along with head of recruitment Frank McParland, were tasked with identifying targets and securing signings for the club.
McParland had success and unearthed talents while with Liverpool, Brentford and Burnley but his record in Scotland was underwhelming.
In a piece on www.scotsman.com the 30 players who had arrived at Ibrox under the former scout and Warburton were judged. The players were placed in categories ranging from “The Waghorn” – ‘Great in the Championship, Average/Good in the Premiership’ to “The Senderos” – ‘Why oh why?’.
Of the 30 players signed only Clint Hill, Josh Windass, Lee Hodson and Wesley Foderingham have been what many would consider a success. Not exactly the best hit-rate.
Joey Barton and Niko Krancjar – risky signings in the grand scheme of things – didn't work out. The Barton experiment lasted just the five months and he's now back at Burnley. Kranjcar, meanwhile, suffered a cruciate ligament injury in October which has ruled him out until the end of the season.
There have been underwhelming signings such as Matt Crooks, Matt Gilks, Joe Dodoo and Joe Garner. The latter cost a reported £1.8million – pricey for a Scottish club – but has only found the back of the net on three occasions so far this season. While many of the other signings failed to even evoke an emotion. They weren't bad but at the same time they weren't good. They were just there.
Looking at those aforementioned players it's hard to spot a trend or a driving force behind their recruitment policy. It was a scatter gun approach that benefitted nobody.
With a director of football in charge of proceedings that doesn't happen. Instead you see the club adopt a clear identity and have a philosophy and a plan in place for. Think of Monchi at Sevilla and Michael Zorc at Borussia Dortmund.
These are clubs who had no right competing with the big boys of European football but through clever recruitment and ensuring that all involved were pulling in the same direction they've not only done that, they've sustained it.
Rangers must decide what sort of club they want to be. Whether it's a club who nurtures and develops young talent with a view to selling them on down the line for profit or a club who develop the under-appreciated players of the world and give them that second chance. Either way they're going to have to be savvy in the market.
When that's in place a Director of football can select a manager ideally suited their plans. Rangers are going about this the right way and fans should be encouraged by this.