Almost two months after sacking Pedro Caixinha, Rangers are yet to appoint a new manager. After a frenzy of speculation suggesting Derek McInnes would leave Aberdeen for Ibrox, the latest rumours are that Tony Pulis is now the club’s primary target.
The names mentioned seem to point roughly in the same direction. Most, if not all, are British, and most, if not all, are deeply pragmatic. This will make sense to many based on recent experiences.
Caixinha and Paul Le Guen are the most recent foreign managers to take to the Ibrox hot-seat. Both came in with no prior experience of management in the country and grand tactical ideals, but both failed to impose themselves on the job and failed to complete one full campaign in charge.
However, Rangers should not be put off by going abroad. For an example of why, they could simply look to the good work Dick Advocaat did while in charge in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Nor should they be put off by the unconventional – Mark Warburton came in from Brentford having never played at a particularly high level, but got the team promoted to the top tier and defeated Celtic convincingly in his maiden campaign.
If they remain open to a more revolutionary approach, there are plenty of quality managers in other countries or lower leagues who could work wonders for the club. Here are four of the best options.
Following on from the Caixinha debacle, some Rangers fans may be averse to the idea of hiring another manager working in Mexico, but this would only deny them the possibility of considering Alonso.
While not a big name in Europe, the former target man has worked wonders in the Americas. After spells in Paraguay and his native Uruguay, he has enjoyed immense success with Pachuca, winning the Liga MX Clausura last year, the 2016/17 CONCACAF Champions League and leading them to third place in this year’s FIFA Club World Cup, behind Real Madrid and Gremio.
At just 42 years of age Alonso is young for a manager but is already renowned for being an adept tactician. And Rangers fans might appreciate his winning personality. When asked about his ideals recently he said: “I think the team can potentially excel in all four phases of play. What’s our ideal scenario? To always dominate.”
Unlike Alonso, who could perhaps be considered an adaptable manager, Bielsa is more rigid in his beliefs.
He is a process-oriented coach, one who has refined his ideals over many years at the top of the game with the likes of Marseille, Athletic Bilbao, Espanyol, and the Argentine and Chilean national teams.
His intense man-marking approach is seen by some as kamikaze, but the teams he manages tend to be extremely fit, hard-working and exciting to watch.
After years of staid possession football, he could inject the sort of energy and risk-taking necessary to take Rangers up a level.
The only question mark would be the risk/reward. Bielsa is notoriously hard to please – he left Lazio just two days into his time in Italy – and he would likely be an expensive hire.
Factor in the inconsistency of his results in recent years, and the Scottish side may wish to go in another direction.
Arguably the finest English manager around today doesn’t work in his home country. Potter’s work with Östersunds FK has been ignored for some time but, having led the Swedish side to a Europa League knockout clash with Arsenal courtesy of a draw with Athletic Bilbao and a win over Hertha Berlin, he may soon be more recognisable.
The 42-year-old has already guided his side to consecutive promotions and a first-ever Swedish Cup win, all while refusing to compromise on an aesthetically pleasing playing style. Lining up in a variety of formations, his players build possession effectively from the back and are able to pass through opponents.
This season only two teams in Sweden’s top tier averaged more possession than Potter’s side, though none could beat them for pass success. Additionally, only one team played more short passes per game. It’s a risky game, but one the Englishman appears to have mastered. If he could implement the same style and success at Ibrox, he could revolutionise Rangers.
While McInnes was being linked to Rangers speculation abounded as to who Aberdeen would get into replace him. Ross was one of the names mentioned. With the Dons boss staying put, the man previously considered his potential successor should be a candidate for the Ibrox dugout.
Having stabilised Alloa Athletic following relegation, Ross has taken St. Mirren to top spot in the Scottish Championship this season. He has done this while getting his team to play attractive, attack-minded football, with the full-backs pushing high and possession being retained and utilised.
His former manager at Hartlepool United, Neale Cooper, had good things to say about the 41-year-old. “He’s done excellently. Jack did some work with the Players Union and he’s really taken to management quickly,” he said. “[He’s] young, enthusiastic and ambitious…a good coach and he’s going up the levels.”
Having never managed at the top level, Ross would be seen as a risky appointment by some. However, having achieved good results in both of his two managerial roles thus far while implementing intriguing football, he could be precisely what Rangers need.