Will These Former Rangers Players Succeed At Their New Clubs?


After Rangers went into liquidation, a number of first team players decided against transferring their contracts to the Newco Rangers.  It was hardly a surprising move, as Rangers face an uncertain future.  While the governing bodies in Scottish football (all three of them, the SFA, SPL and SFL, equally inept) argue amongst themselves over the future of Rangers and the game in Scotland, you can’t really blame players for choosing to leave.

Rangers could (and really should) start the 2012/13 season in Division 3, and it would be folly to attempt to pay those players their most recent wages at that level.  When the players negotiated salary cuts to keep the club alive during the season, they also negotiated release clauses in their contracts that would have allowed them to leave for significantly less than what Rangers would have accepted under normal circumstances, but the players that chose to leave felt that those contracts and clauses were no longer valid.

Some of those players have now signed for new clubs, albeit as Rangers owner Charles Green contests their right to break their contracts, so here’s a look at what those clubs are getting.

Steven Whittaker – Norwich City

Steven Whittaker became the first former Rangers player to find a new club at the weekend, when he became Chris Hughton’s first signing as Norwich manager.  Whittaker became first choice rightback for Rangers after the departure of Alan Hutton, and although he enjoyed a stellar 09/10 season, scoring 11 goals, he was always inconsistent.  His ability to defend against quality wide players has always been an issue, and it seems unlikely that he will be able to cope against players like Gareth Bale in the Premier League.

Kyle Lafferty – Sion

Kyle Lafferty joined Rangers from Burnley in 2008, for a fee of £3.75million, and although he had a habit of scoring vital goals as Rangers won 3 SPL titles in a row, he also had a bad habit of making headlines for the wrong reasons.  He feigned being headbutted by Charlie Mulgrew at Ibrox, getting the Aberdeen player sent off (Lafferty was later banned himself), and last season failed to join the squad for a trip to Hearts, forcing manager Ally McCoist to suspend him.  He often frustrated Rangers fans, and will have to work hard to impress in Switzerland.

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John Fleck – Coventry City

Even before his 16th birthday, John Fleck was highly rated as the future of Rangers.  He made his Rangers debut in 2008 as a 16 year old, but Fleck failed to establish himself in the Rangers first team, with then manager Walter Smith seemingly unable to find his best position, and he rarely started.  He joined Blackpool on loan in January, but failed to make much of an impression in the Championship, and has now dropped to League One with Coventry.  He’s still only 20, but time is running out for Fleck to fulfil his potential.

Jamie Ness – Stoke City

Like Fleck, Jamie Ness has long been a highly rated player in the Rangers youth system.  As a teenager he was close to the first team, but a series of long-term injuries hampered his progress, before he eventually made his first team debut in 2010. He scored his first goal for the club against Celtic in the Scottish Cup, but injury again prevented him from playing much last season, and he made just 5 appearances.  He is now 21, but if he can avoid more injuries, he could turn out to be a real bargain for Stoke.

Steven Naismith – Everton

Of all the players to leave so far, Naismith’s departure will hurt Rangers fans the most.  His form during the 10/11 season was outstanding, and he was even better last season, until picking up a serious knee injury against Aberdeen in October.  Naismith had become the best player in Scotland, and was performing well at international level too, scoring an excellent goal in Scotland’s 3-2 defeat against Spain during Euro 2012 qualifying.  If he can recover his form quickly after his injury, Naismith will be an outstanding signing for Everton.

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