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An Old Argument: Ally McCoist and Rangers' Young Players

This is fun!

Remember that? This was what our Twitter hashtags proclaimed not all that long ago. Not so long ago jumping into social media with a bunch of like-minded Rangers fans was indeed that. However, these days it seems more of a chore than anything else.

Where there was fun there is now endless pages of arguments, heated discussion, name-calling, mockery and malice.

We have developed a mass outbreak of the Dunning-Kruger effect – an illusion of superiority. Literally thousands of us actually believe that we know better, especially in the case of our manager Ally McCoist, when it comes to matters both on and off the pitch.

We all know better tactics; we all know who should play and who shouldn’t; we know who should leave the club; who we should buy and we apparently know that our youngsters are ready for the first team.

Ally McCoist, by far one of the greatest ever Rangers, has become vilified to the point that disrespect is readily considered opinion and profanities have become acceptable adjectives.

When Charlie Telfer left for Dundee United his comments provoked a strong reaction from the Ibrox faithful. He said:

"I have watched how the younger players at United are allowed to develop in the first team".

To some it was a damning indictment on our manager. Some desperately grasped at words from an 18 year old boy to give some validation for their arguments.

Derek Johnston – another Rangers legend who I have noticed recently that Rangers fans feel quite comfortable disrespecting – doesn’t share the popular belief that Telfer leaving was Ally’s fault. Speaking recently he said:

"If your contract is up and you don't want to be at the club, fine. Rangers don't want people that don't want to be there.

“There is no doubt he is a talent, but that is all he is just now.

“If he doesn't want to be at Rangers then what else can Ally do? He has offered him a contract and he has said no.

“I don't mind playing kids, but they have got to be good enough.

“You can't throw them in just for the sake of it, they have got to be good enough to play and deserve it.

“Lewis Macleod and Fraser Aird have proven that they are and they will feature again next term, as will Calum Gallagher.”

Sensible words from a guy who has been around the game and our great club for longer than some of our twitteratti have been able to chew on solid food.

The signing of Kenny Miller brought with it even further disdain, aimed again at Ally and Miller himself. Some seem oblivious to the benefits he will bring to the club.

Kenny knows exactly what it means and what is required to play for Glasgow Rangers. As Ally suggested recently, this is perhaps something sorely missing from his players. In an almost damning statement on his he said:

“One of the things we have been lacking in recent seasons is players who have been over the course and distance with Rangers.

“That is important because they can certainly educate not just the younger boys but perhaps some of the older lads that have signed like Nicky Law and David Templeton. If they need any information from Kenny on what is required to be a Rangers player then I am sure he will be available to give them that information.”

If we are allowed to read between the lines as liberally as we did with Telfer then it at least appears that McCoist is saying that these players still have a lot to learn.

Ally has always publicly backed his players but it appears that, contrary to public opinion, he is far from happy with what he is seeing on the park.

There is an air of arrogant expectancy within the Rangers support with regards to our youngsters, in truth most of us have probably never even seen them play, at least not regularly, yet the masses have decided they all deserve to be given a Rangers jersey and handed the chance to shine.

The manager is ridiculed when youngsters are sent out on loan, even though some were actually being given the chance to prove themselves at a higher level than we were able to offer them.

The argument I hear is that if we are playing in the lower leagues then this is an ideal time to throw the youngsters on the park. Why send them to First Division clubs?

In all honestly if you need it explained to you the difference between playing for Morton and playing in front of 45000 fans in Ibrox on matchday (regardless of the league) then truly I can’t help you.

After Charlie Telfer leaving, I was heartened by the recent words of Luca Gasporotta. Here is another youngster desperate to make a breakthrough but one clever enough not to listen to the desperate calls from fans demanding he should already be starting. Not only that, he also confirmed exactly what the benefits are of having experienced players around him.

He said:

"The gaffer has brought in a lot of players at Rangers but that's not a bad thing.

“When I'm training with more experienced players that helps me. You can become better just by being in that environment and being around them every day.

“With me not being as experienced, I look up to the likes of Emilson and Jig, who have both been around for ages.

“Centre-half might not be Lee's natural position but he does so well on the pitch and it's great having all these players to learn from.”

Speaking also to the official Rangers Website, he made it clear he was willing to continue to work hard – regardless of whether that was for the first team or within the youth set up.

This should simply be the attitude of every Rangers youngster.

Do we want Ally to devalue the achievement of one of our youngsters playing for Rangers? Should youngsters start to expect a start simply for turning up?

Players like Lewis MacLeod and Frasier Aird have put in the hard work required to be where they are – when they earned a chance they took it.

The ironic thing is perhaps these youngsters would have got more game time if we as fans were not so demanding. Rangers fans demand many things and one of these is a tick in the win column. These youngsters wouldn’t go out on the park with the simple expectancy of progressing and advancing their game; they wouldn’t be expected to simply enjoy the occasion and have fun. They would be expected to win and if they didn’t they would certainly hear about it.

Back to Derek Johnston:

“You can't just play kids because they are kids. They have to be ready.

“If you put them in and it doesn't go well, their confidence can go and it is hard to recover.

“It is fine playing for smaller clubs, but this is Rangers, there are huge crowds and huge pressure on you and you have to be able to handle it all.”

A prime example of negative fan impact can be seen in Charlie Adam. Joining the youth set-up at Rangers at 17, he had undoubtable talent. He worked hard and served his time out on loan at Ross County and St Mirren. He played in the UEFA Cup and the Champions league, eventually amassing 87 games in the first team. But then his form dipped and when it did the Rangers fans took notice. Any mistake by Adam was pounced upon. Then came the Boos – they got so strong that his family stopped attending games. As a result, Adam’s confidence dropped and eventually he was literally booed out of Ibrox.

He joined Blackpool and his confidence soared. He began to show what he could offer as a player, became club Captain and soon after he was a £8 million signing for Liverpool.

Perhaps we should consider such things before we criticise the manager for his reluctance in placing a young player directly in the spotlight.