So the Ibrox club has unearthed its Director of Football at last, and he’s Belgian which means they are betting big on Clement coming good. They want to move towards a model where the manager doesn’t pick the players; we’ve seen how that can go. But they’ve also seen what happens when you let one guy loose with the Gold Card.
The guy they’ve hired is called Nils Koppen, and this guy isn’t even in the door yet, with his feet under the table, but the stupid spin has begun already, headed up by Ronnie Copeland in The Daily Record. His take on it would put Hans Christian Anderson to shame.
Under a segment called “What is he best known for?” he wrote the following;
“He might not have been one of the foreground antagonists but Koppen had a big part to play in the PSV side that dismantled (the Ibrox team) in the Champions League qualifiers earlier this season. The bulk of the side that hammered Michael Beale’s team 5-1 in Eindhoven, including winger Johan Bakayoko, midfielder Joey Veerman and forward Noa Lang, were products of the scouting network while he was in post and he is renowned in the Netherlands for his ability to spot a player.
“Even more notable is that Moroccan international Ismael Saibari, who scored twice that night in the Netherlands, was brought to PSV from Genk straight after Koppen made the same jump. The 22-year-old has been on the bench for the most part next season…could he follow him to a new club once again?”
That entire paragraph is mostly exaggeration if not outright fiction. But hey, they have to try and sell this guy somehow. And as per usual they are preying on the gullibility of an Ibrox fan-base which will quite literally swallow anything.
Johan Bakayoko was one of dozens of young players PSV brought to their club over the last five years. He’s only 20, and he’s been at the club for nearly four years, which means he arrived there aged 16. So, think on that for a minute. He’s part of a large youth intake at a time when you don’t know what you’re going to get. The real work was done by the coaches.
Joey Veerman will be a name familiar to most Ibrox fans; they tried, and failed, to sign him before PSV swooped. So he was well known enough that even Ibrox scouts couldn’t miss him, so I don’t think that he’s an example of genius in spotting a player. He also cost PSV in excess of £7 million, so their fans will be hoping he can find cheaper talent than that.
Noah Lang, you might be willing to grant him that one. But he was hardly a babe in the woods. He was a product of the Ajax academy, and he moved to Belgium before getting a move back to Holland at PSV. And he cost £15 million or thereabouts, so that’s another one that might have been easy to spot but would be a Hell of a lot harder to actually get.
Ismael Saibari, that’s another who you might credit this guy with having watched, and liked, but you’ll notice that a lot of these guys were playing in Belgium before Holland and maybe think that there’s a direct link between this guy and them, but in fact Belgian football sends a lot of its players to Holland and vice versa. Saibari is another guy who has been at PSV for nearly four years; he signed there aged 19 and spent the first two seasons in the reserves.
So, he’s a “project player” and that seems to be the model Ibrox wants to emulate. Our model, in other words, with all its hassles and grief and all its difficulties and frustrations. But ours works, and it works because we’ve invested time and money in it and we have brought in the right people (most of the time) to run the team.
I know two things here; they don’t have the money to do it right and their fans lack the patience to give it a chance to work. Are they going to accept a summer where they sign six players and three of them aren’t first team ready for two years? That’s the model this guy was working in at PSV. Are they going to give youth a chance when there is bling to be had?
That club is obsessed with bling, so I suspect the answer is obvious. This plan will last just long enough for it to all fall apart, and filling the place with Belgians is like when they filled it with Dutch under Van Bronckhorst; all the more people to pay off.
If this guy was as good as the fans expected and hoped for, the media would not need to spin his record like this. They would not need to lie. In the end, time will tell … but without the scouting network of a club like PSV, without the Dutch commitment to youth development and without the support in the stands this has as much chance of success as Boris Johnson has of convincing people next week that he was fit to be PM after all.
In other words, none.