Bold Rangers decision has been a masterstroke for the club - future success guaranteed
Ranger raised some eyebrows at the start of the year when they boldly announced they would be withdrawing from the SPFL Development League for a season and sending their Under-20 side across Europe to face the best youth sides from across the continent.
The Light Blues have picked up wins against the likes of Valencia, AEK Athens, Villareal and Huddersfield Town in recent weeks before a 3-2 win over Dutch side FC Utrecht on Saturday.
As part of the Games Programme the Gers have been tested against Bayern Munich, both Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Feyenoord as they look at different ways of improving youth development at the club.
With homegrown youngsters like Ross McCrorie, Jamie Barjonas and Aidan Wilson all featuring for the first-team – David Bates only spent a little over half-a-season in the club’s set-up before joining the first-team – there’s a clear pathway for young talent at Ibrox now and the Games Programme should have helped them learn from being thrust into a different environment to the norm.
Whether it is something the Gers decide to continue in the long-term is not yet clear but there has been a definite argument for it giving the players a new platform to play and built on the growth in interest in the club’s youth sides in the last few years.
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Playing against a higher level of player has made the Gers’ youngsters up their performances and put them in situations in game that they will never encountered playing against Scottish sides – and considering that it has already born success, has been a masterstroke.
The win over Utrecht is another sign that the Gers are getting it right at youth level and the Games Programme has been a big part of that this season, with future success a guarantee as a result.
If only others in Scottish football were so open to ‘radical’ plans to improve players.