If you were perusing the websites of the Ibrox club this morning a headline might have jumped out at you about their “signing blitz” being stepped up. I saw that and thought “what in the Hell is that a reference to?” And so I checked it out.
It’s a reference to two signings they’ve made already and a third they’re trying to get over the line.
All kids. All under 17.
Including the one from Motherwell that they allegedly nicked from under our nose, although you can’t find anyone who’s heard of the guy far less any evidence that we were getting ready to make him an offer.
A couple of their sites have been trying to sound awfully excited over these deals, which is a sign of the desperation over there.
They have framed them as masterstrokes because these guys are leaving England seeing a clearer path to first team football.
There is also talk – which makes me laugh out loud – about how this is part of the “European football bounce”, which has made their club more attractive than it might otherwise have been.
The thing is, there are one or two holes in the theory (as you can probably guess.)
First, one of the three hasn’t moved from England but from Motherwell. Of the two left, one was being offered a new deal and a clear path to the first team at Millwall. The idea that any such path exists at Ibrox is fanciful nonsense. They just renewed the contracts of three players deep into their thirties. Their top signing target is 28 years old.
There is not, and never has been, a clear path at Ibrox for youth players. This is why so many of them have headed for the exits in recent years. The most significant thing to happen at their academy this summer was the departure of a key player – Rory Wilson, who signed for Aston Villa after an astonishing scoring record at youth level.
In the January window they signed, on loan, a youth player from another club and gave a bumper deal to a has-been with a famous name. They are currently, if you believe the press, trying to secure a loan deal for the coming campaign … some Manchester City “wonderkid” (of course.) Which makes the idea of a “clearer youth path” ridiculous.
There’s been no “European final bounce” any more than there was one for Middlesbrough or Fulham or some of the other clubs which reached the Europa League’s showpiece match in recent years, just as this site pointed out over and over again just as getting players into the Team of the Tournament hasn’t resulted in them becoming more valuable.
The biggest hole in the theory is that they’ve done something remarkable here. As I’ll write later, English clubs are now at a considerable disadvantage over Scottish teams when it comes to signing players from abroad.
This means they are hanging onto the best of their youth talent at all costs; if Ibrox has really managed to grab a couple of academy boys from down there, at a time when, actually, every English club is crying out for quality … how good do you reckon they are? Where was the interest from other clubs in their own sphere?
No-one knows if these young players will be successful or not, and that’s the point. Ibrox fans have literally nothing else to be excited over … not real incomings and not the outgoings which would enable them to do anything big on that front.
They watch us spending tens of millions and it hurts … and so they feign confidence, and they pretend to be inspired by deals like these. They even throw in a little “Celtic snubbed” legend to add to the fake good cheer.
And none of it does them any good.
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