CRAIG MULHOLLAND is delighted that former Rangers players Peter Lovenkrands, Andy Little, Stephen Wright and Brian Gilmour will be joining the Academy coaching staff at Auchenhowie for the new season, with Graeme Murty also taking on an additional role with the club as Head of Academy Coaching.
Speaking to RangersTV, Mulholland, the club’s Head of Academy, explained the positive changes he feels will be of huge benefit to the youth department.
He said: “I think most of the work we have done so far has looked at the structural side of the Academy in terms of programs and initiatives we have come out with.
“This time we’re looking at the actual content of our coaching because what we want to do is become the best in the country by a distance at our coaching program.
“So Graeme Murty’s role will change slightly. Graeme will become Head of Academy Coaching as well as Head of Development Squad.
Graeme brings with him a lot of knowledge from Southampton, from Norwich, from places like that, and I think the fact he was in the Premiership’s course for the young elite coaches in England, he has gained lots of information from that which will help in the role he has.
“So he’ll have more of a wider role for the curriculum and developing our coaching staff.
“We were also looking to bring back some of the ex-Rangers players to the Academy as well.
“If you look at Ajax and other clubs, I think it’s important that our young players benefit from the experience they’ve had playing at Champions League level, winning trophies and medals for Rangers, but importantly they also have to be good, ambitious coaches, and I think we look at Stephen and the role he’ll take on, Peter and Andy are younger coaches who will obviously learn and we’ll help them develop as coaches.
“We also have young Brian Gilmour coming with us as well and Brian’s done a great job at Ayr United; we’ve had our eye on him for quite some time. So we are excited to bring these four guys into the Academy.”
Craig believes the knowledge and experience all four new coaches in the Academy have from their playing days at Rangers will help them considerably when they work with young players hoping to become first-team stars themselves.
He added: “Our young players must be winners, this club traditionally is famous for that and I think these guys have been there, they’ve played at Ibrox in front of 50,000 and they know that side of it.
It’s important they will fit with our culture because there is no point in bringing in people in who didn’t fit with our culture and who didn’t fit with our philosophy.
“They’ll do that, but equally they’ll add a bit in terms of their own playing experience and I think they’ll be great to have around the training ground. Brian Gilmour is the same as he came through the Academy.
“I think when you look at a lot of the models throughout Europe, and we recently completed a study with the European clubs association, some clubs go with only ex-players, some clubs go with teachers and people with an academic background.
“For me I think it needs to be a hybrid of both. We’ve got quite a few guys in the Academy who are really well-educated individuals, who know how to develop young people, look at learning styles, teaching styles, and even Donald McNaughton, our sports psychologist, he’ll do more and more with our coaches to look at how they teach young people.
“But if we can add to that some ex-players who have a real good knowledge of this club and of the highest level of the game, that’s going to be invaluable for our young players as they progress through the Academy and hopefully make the first team.”