HEAD of Academy Craig Mulholland has praised the impact of manager Steven Gerrard on the club’s younger players.
Coming from an Academy coaching background at Liverpool, Gerrard has greatly impressed Mulholland with the way he and his coaching staff have supported the Rangers Academy this season.
Mulholland, speaking exclusively to RangersTV, said: “The gaffer has been fantastic. He has been to watch right down to our under-11s and 12s, and he knows every player. We’ve had Nathan Young-Coombes come up from Chelsea and he said at that club the first team manager wouldn’t know your name at the age Nathan is at. Steven knows all of the young players in the Academy as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
“22 players have trained with the first team from the Academy this season. Gary McAllister has been at a lot of the games, as have Colin Stewart and Tom Culshaw. And Michael Beale, I would like to give a special mention to. He is the one who actually speaks to Graeme Murty and myself every day.
“He has worked at Chelsea’s Academy, he has worked at Liverpool’s Academy, and Michael has been really supportive but also has a raft of knowledge which has been beneficial in developing our programme.”
Next season, Gers under-19s will compete in the UEFA Youth League for the first time, and Mulholland believes that to be huge step for the club.
He continued: “Over the last couple of years we’ve had the ‘best v best’ Games Programme and I think one of the highlights for me this season was the game out in Vienna. When the Europa League group stage draw was made, we immediately contacted our opponents to see if we could do the same thing with our under-19s. Unfortunately Villarreal couldn’t do it but Spartak and Rapid Vienna did, and in Vienna we were 2-0 down at half-time but came back to win 4-2.
“The resilience and the grit our players demonstrated along with the quality was massive, and when you look at their GPS stats at the end of the game and how fatigued they were from that game, that is us pushing our players in a challenging way to get ‘best v best’. What the UEFA Youth League will give us is the same as what we have been trying to do anyway but in a competitive environment. It will be great for both the players and the staff.”