Re­cruit­ing the best peo­ple off as well as on the park is key for Rangers’ Mark Allen

The Herald on Sunday - - SPORT -

Re­cruit­ing well has been the main aim of Rangers’ direc­tor of foot­ball, and it is not just the play­ers, hears Chris Jack

THE state­ment from Mark Allen is as true about staff as it is play­ers.

“You can never have too many good peo­ple,” he said while re­flect­ing on the changes he has made be­hind the scenes at the Hum­mel Train­ing Cen­tre since his move from Man­ches­ter City in June last year. “I have learned that in my man­age­rial ca­reer, and across a num­ber of spec­trums. Peo­ple are key and good peo­ple help you get to where you need to get to quicker.”

The work to im­ple­ment a more co­he­sive sup­port unit around him was the main ob­jec­tive for Allen when he was ap­pointed direc­tor of foot­ball at Rangers. The ben­e­fits have al­ready been seen this sum­mer, but must con­tinue in a cy­cle that is nev­erend­ing.

He now has a new man­ager, Steven Ger­rard, in place and a trans­fer win­dow be­hind him that saw Rangers make 15 sign­ings as his net­work of staff – headed up by Andy Scould­ing, and with John Brown and Dave Swan­ick ap­pointed to scout­ing roles – and con­tacts were re­ally put to the test for the first time.

The main com­po­nent of the club’s am­bi­tion, of course, is a higher cal­i­bre of player. Sourc­ing and ac­quir­ing that com­mod­ity isn’t Allen’s only re­mit, but it is the mea­sur­ing stick by which he will be judged by sup­port­ers.

On early ev­i­dence, he can be pleased with his ef­forts and the strike-rate un­der Ger­rard is more than favourable right now. There will al­ways be mis­takes and er­rors of judg­ment but the process – from the first word of mouth or video clip to the mo­ment when pen is put to pa­per – is as thor­ough as it can be.

“It is part of a much big­ger pic­ture in terms of the whole club phi­los­o­phy and style of play, but the re­al­ity is that we have to look at ev­ery po­si­tion,” Allen said of the scout­ing strat­egy and re­cruit­ment pro­ce­dures. “We have got ev­ery po­si­tion cov­ered off, from an at­tack­ing right-back to a de­fen­sive right-back to a right wing-back.

“Then you look at a num­ber of char­ac­ter­is­tics within that, such as what are they like in pos­ses­sion? What are they like out of pos­ses­sion? What are they like when the ball is in tran­si­tion be­tween at­tack and de­fence? What are the phys­i­cal at­tributes that are re­quired in a league like this? And, more im­por­tantly, have they got what it takes to play at Ibrox? That is the hard­est one to judge, be­cause you don’t re­ally know un­til they get here.

“But you can do a lot of re­search into the type of per­son and char­ac­ter that they are. It is very in depth in terms of de­cid­ing which par­tic­u­lar tal­ent we go after.”

The fa­mous wooden front doors of Ibrox could have been re­placed by re­volv­ing ones in re­cent years as scores of play­ers have ar­rived and de­parted un­der a se­ries of man­agers.

There has seem­ingly been lit­tle strat­egy or thought put into the sign­ings at times but that shouldn’t be the case now Allen is over­see­ing the en­tire foot­ball op­er­a­tion and has his blue­print in place.

As direc­tor of foot­ball, his in­flu­ence is more wide-rang­ing than just pick­ing play­ers to sign and his work with the academy, in sports sci­ence and med­i­cal, all feeds into the big­ger pic­ture as he and Ger­rard look to put the best pos­si­ble team on the pitch.

“Un­less you are at the very, very top of the game, most foot­ball clubs have to look at their ac­qui­si­tion of tal­ent as some­thing that gives them a re­turn on the in­vest­ment,” Allen said. “Now, that re­turn on in­vest­ment could be win­ning the league, it could be from one price to an­other, it could be a player that comes in that wants to be part of the squad and is happy to be part of the squad. There are so many dif­fer­ent av­enues you can go into with the re­cruit­ment strat­egy and the ra­tio­nale be­hind the deals.

“I also think you need to look at the make-ups. There will be mar­que sign­ings, there will be first-team play­ers, there will be core play­ers, there are all dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories.

“It is about map­ping that out. But there is no se­cret that, if you buy at one price and sell at an­other, that might give you more money to rein­vest and carry on.

“We are no dif­fer­ent to any other busi­ness, and foot­ball is no dif­fer­ent to any other busi­ness. There has to be a sus­tain­abil­ity and a rhyme and rea­son to it.”

The model of buy low and sell high is one that clubs across Eu­rope – and, closer to home Celtic – have used to prof­itable ef­fect for a while now. It is a way of op­er­at­ing that Rangers haven’t yet made the most of and, while they now have some as­sets, tim­ing is ev­ery­thing.

Each penny is no longer a pris­oner at Ibrox but value for money must still be found. The main am­bi­tion re­mains the same as it al­ways has been, though, and that is to as­sem­ble a team ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing do­mes­tic sil­ver­ware and com­pet­ing on the con­ti­nent.

“I wouldn’t want the im­pres­sion that we are a buy-to-sell club and that we only buy to sell,” Allen said. “That is not cor­rect. First and fore­most we want to be suc­cess­ful and I need to make sure we at­tract and se­cure play­ers that are go­ing to make us suc­cess­ful.

“Then you look at the sec­ondary part and there may be op­por­tu­ni­ties as a re­sult of that suc­cess where sud­denly the value of your play­ers in­creases. There comes a point in any foot­baller’s jour­ney that the price is right. Ney­mar left one club to join an­other for a phe­nom­e­nal fee and the price was right.

“There will al­ways be a right price for foot­ballers, that is the mar­ket we are in. It is recog­nis­ing that and also recog­nis­ing when the best time is to cap­i­talise.

“It is no se­cret that there were of­fers for

James Tav­ernier and Al­fredo

More­los, but we didn’t feel it was the right time and nor did we feel it was the right price.”

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