‘It needs to step up a notch or two’ - Barry Ferguson issues damning Rangers recruitment assessment
The former Ibrox captain reckons his old club can get their title challenge back on track despite facing a difficult January transfer window
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Barry Ferguson has urged Rangers to step up their recruitment policy and leave no stone unturned across the next two transfer windows after failing to strengthen the squad in the summer.
With the January window fast approaching, the former Light Blues captain reckons the period building up to the next Old Firm match at Ibrox could become season defining if they are to mount a genuine title challenge, with games against Hibernian, Aberdeen, Ross County and Motherwell still to come before the end of the year.
The Gers brought in SEVEN new players at the beginning of the 2022/23 season, but only the signing of Croatian striker Antonio Colak can be deemed a success with the likes of Tom Lawrence, Ridvan Yilmaz and John Souttar hampered by injuries.
Fans have grown increasingly frustrated with manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst after dropping points at home to Livingston before following that result up with a 2-1 defeat to St Johnstone and a recent 1-1 draw with St Mirren in Paisley as Rangers fell further behind leaders Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership.
Ferguson understands supporters discontent but claims the Gers board and players must also share some of the blame for a poor run of results and performances as he talked up the importance of a squad rebuild.
Writing in his Daily Record column, Ferguson said: “Rangers need to recruit in the January transfer window but it’s a difficult window for a number of reasons. Players who are available are often guys who are running down their contracts and about to become free agents and then there’s the ones who have maybe fallen out of favour and are not match fit.
“It’s far from ideal but I believe these next two windows are crucial for Rangers as there need to be reinforcements brought in. I’m not talking about adding the numbers, these players need to be able to hit the ground running and be able to come straight into the starting XI.
“Recruitment is never an exact science and doesn’t come with any 100-per-cent guarantees in football. There are a number of reasons why some signings don’t work out. Some players fail to settle, there are a number of reasons why recruitment can fall down and there are always risks attached but Rangers haven’t been anywhere near good enough on that front.
“It needs to step up a notch or two come January and the summer but that also depends on one thing and that is whether there will be funds available. Anyone looking at Rangers just now will see a squad which does need quite a bit of money spent on it. There are around ten players about to go out of contract and that includes some who are returning from spells out on loan.
“It all adds up to a sizable rebuild which is going to be required, that’s why these windows are going to be so crucial but it’s also about the here and now. It’s all about trying to use this break for some soul searching and returning with a defiance and showing if Rangers are going to go down in this title race then it won’t be without one hell of a fight.”
Ferguson has demanded the Rangers hierarchy to either give their full backing to Van Bronckhorst or agree to a parting of ways immediately. He insists the current silence from the club would suggest the Dutchman will still lead the team after the World Cup break.
He added “There’s no better time for everyone at Rangers to take a breath. A break for the World Cup for Gio van Bronckhorst and the players, board and the fans to have a period of calm. I’ve spoken previously about the lack of communication coming out of the club but the current silence over the manager’s job security appears to suggest no news is good news for Gio.
“The fans are being left to make presumptions that if there was to be a change then it would have happened by now but again it’s a guessing game so who knows? Speculation won’t end until a statement is made which confirms the board are backing their man or have decided to have a parting of ways.
“I am being asked the question all the times, trips to the petrol station or the shops have become an interrogation at times, fans asking me if Gio’s going to be replaced. They know how much as me but there needs to be a line drawn under this saga and all the focus centred on improving the situation and trying to make a fist of getting back into the title race.
“Can Celtic’s nine point lead be clawed back? In footballl it’s best never to say never. It’s going to be a huge ask as Celtic have still been comfortably winning games and not playing as well as they had been. It’s a big gap to breach but you can never give in as a Rangers player, of course it can be done.”