The Scottish Mail on Sunday

No sur­prise should Dor­rans de­cide to fol­low his heart

- By Fraser Mackie

STEVEN NAI­SMITH might not be ready to come back to Scot­land just yet. But he sus­pects he knows a man who is. Thanks to the ris­ing bids from Ibrox, Nai­smith’s Nor­wich team-mate Gra­ham Dor­rans could be granted his long-held de­sire to sign for Rangers.

That was how Nai­smith’s own dream came true 10 years ago this sum­mer when he joined from Kil­marnock fol­low­ing a lengthy close sea­son sign­ing saga.

His five sub­se­quent sea­sons spent win­ning ti­tles and play­ing Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball have been the sub­ject of much in­ter­est from Dor­rans since the pair be­came Nor­wich pals.

‘Dozza is some­one who has al­ways thought of play­ing for Rangers one day,’ said Nai­smith. ‘He’d ask how it was in my time there.

‘And both of us keep an eye on the scores and watch games. There was cer­tainly al­ways an in­ter­est there. If it’s right for him it wouldn’t be a sur­prise that he fan­cies com­ing back to Scot­land.’

As Pe­dro Caix­inha combs the Por­tuguese and Mex­i­can mar­kets and tar­gets a Colom­bian striker, Rangers fans will be com­forted by the idea of a life­long sup­porter be­ing keen on mov­ing to Glas­gow.

Nai­smith was con­sid­ered the most likely man to make that switch when it was sug­gested, at the end of the sea­son, he could be lead­ing the Car­row Road clear out.

How­ever, it is for­mer Liv­ingston mid­fielder Dor­rans who in­ter­ests Caix­inha as well as Nor­wich’s Cham­pi­onship ri­vals Sh­effield Wed­nes­day and Mid­dles­brough.

Nai­smith de­scribes Nor­wich’s will­ing to do busi­ness for his fel­low 30-year-old as slightly sur­pris­ing as new sport­ing di­rec­tor Stu­art Web­ber sets about slash­ing the wage bill.

For the Scot­land for­ward be­lieves Dor­rans be­ing out of ac­tion with a knee in­jury from Box­ing Day to mid-March was a ma­jor fac­tor in Nor­wich fail­ing to make a run at the play-offs.

‘Nor­wich are in a tran­si­tional pe­riod, sac­ri­fices may have to be made and he might be one of them,’ said Nai­smith. ‘But for me he’s a big player and could be a big player go­ing for­ward.

‘When he was out in­jured, that was the big­gest miss of the sea­son for us. He plays with such a calm­ness.

‘From him be­ing a young, re­ally at­tack­ing player, as he’s dropped deeper and played that, if you like, play­maker role he is so calm on the ball and makes the team tick.

‘As a for­ward play­ing with him, you know he can find the wee pock­ets and he’ll de­liver that pass. He won’t play it safe and knock it side to side.

‘He wants to force the is­sues, that’s a big thing. Our best per­for­mances were when he was in the team.’

Nai­smith, then, looks more likely than Dor­rans to re­turn to pre-sea­son train­ing in East Anglia with new Ger­man head coach Daniel Farke.

How­ever, he does re­tain a wish to round off his ca­reer back in the Scot­tish top flight a few more years down the line.

He would just pre­fer the do­mes­tic scene to be in a bet­ter place when he does re­turn.

Nai­smith has worked on his ‘B’ li­cence but speaks more like a fu­ture ad­min­is­tra­tor than man­ager.

Far from be­ing a man de­tached from where he’s come from, Nai­smith watches the ac­tion on a weekly ba­sis and fol­lows the con­tro­ver­sies and com­pli­ca­tions of the busi­ness closely.

He is con­cerned by prob­lems that run deep through a Scot­tish game which he’s heard be­ing rou­tinely mocked since swap­ping Rangers for Ever­ton five years ago.

‘I even­tu­ally want to live the rest of my life in Scot­land, go to foot­ball matches and en­joy them,’ he ex­plained. ‘It’s not about tick­ing along and pick­ing up a wage for me.

‘It’s more about com­ing back and hope­fully giv­ing some young guys, in my po­si­tion when I started, the knowl­edge that I’ve gath­ered. Play­ing in a team that’s good and help them progress.

‘And I want to think: “What a good prod­uct we have here”. That we’re bring­ing young­sters through to make money, a con­stant con­veyor belt.

‘We’re a small coun­try com­pared to Eng­land and that’s a com­par­i­son that’s un­fair. They have a league that’s amaz­ing, it’s mar­keted in an amaz­ing way.

‘We need to know where we’re at and what we can do to give young­sters the best op­por­tu­nity.

‘But we have 42 pro­fes­sional clubs in a coun­try with five-and-ahalf mil­lion peo­ple.

‘Is that too many? But ev­ery­one has a vote. Who’s go­ing to de­cide they don’t want to be a club? That won’t hap­pen.

‘Peo­ple need to put aside their in­di­vid­ual agen­das for the best thing for Scot­land and a bet­ter prod­uct. Changes need to come from the top more than just at each in­di­vid­ual club.

‘I watch Scot­tish foot­ball all the time. The play-off game was a good, en­ter­tain­ing game be­cause there was a lot of guys go­ing at 100mph and want­ing to do it for their team.

‘But there was a bit of qual­ity lack­ing there. We’ve got teams play­ing on as­tro­turf be­cause of ben­e­fits bud­get-wise but, for the good of Scot­tish foot­ball, we need a higher stan­dard for peo­ple to watch.

‘Whether that’s chang­ing to sum­mer foot­ball, chang­ing to one body con­trol­ling ev­ery­thing in foot­ball, there’s so many things that need to change.’

Back in the English sec­ond tier, Nor­wich have made their own changes in or­der to pur­sue a place back in the top flight.

Farke is Alex Neil’s per­ma­nent re­place­ment as Web­ber goes back down the route that proved so suc­cess­ful when he re­cruited David Wag­ner for Pre­mier League new boys Hud­der­s­field.

Farke re­placed Wag­ner as Borus­sia Dort­mund’s re­serve team coach in 2015 and Nai­smith is in­trigued by his club’s new ap­point­ment.

‘Hud­der­s­field — along with Ful­ham – was the best team we played,’ he noted.

‘It’s a good mould to try and em­u­late, copy and we’ll see if we do that through pre-sea­son and into the start of the sea­son.

‘Any time I’ve had a new man­ager I’ve gone in and tried to work my socks off and im­press him. I’m go­ing to go back and hope­fully help the club out the di­vi­sion.’

 ??  ?? EAS­ILY LED: Nor­wich’s Dor­rans is some­one who could be sold on a switch to Rangers
EAS­ILY LED: Nor­wich’s Dor­rans is some­one who could be sold on a switch to Rangers
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