Rangers B team have just confirmed that they will be spending another season in the Lowland League after a vote between the participating clubs. There are pros and cons of the B team plying their trade in the Lowland League but there definitely seem to be as many cons as there are pros coming to light. Michael Beale stated recently how big the jump was from the Lowland League to the SPFL was which, while true, begs the question, what’s the point in the youngsters playing at that level?
One of the few benefits is that it gives them the experience of playing against older professionals, some proper ‘men against boys’ match ups can do them the world of good in maturing as a footballer. As far as the other benefits? Game time at a relatively competitive level with teams vying to get into the league proper is one of them. The only other one that comes to mind is playing at some actual stadiums with some decent crowds as opposed to playing in an U21 league at training grounds with barely any fans.
The cons list starts off with the fact that the B team can’t get promoted from the league, meaning they’ll always play at this level, a level the manager has publicly admitted isn’t good enough for them to prove they’re first team ready. The level of opposition is another con, as much as it’s good for the youngsters to play against older professionals, for most of them, there’s a reason they’re at that level and playing week in, week out, against ‘weaker’ opposition won’t help their development.
Another con is that these lads will be scrutinised if they’re not posting ridiculous numbers at a level the manager deems a massive step below first team level. Let’s look at some of the players numbers who have at least made the bench this season;
Charlie Lindsay – 31 Appearances, 10G/6A (19)
Arron Lyall – 32 Appearances, 11G/2A (19)
Ross McCausland – 30 Appearances, 8G/4A (19)
Zak Lovelace – 26 Appearances, 15G/6A (17)
Robbie Ure – 31 Appearances, 16G/8A (19)
These are impressive numbers but are they enough to be given a first team chance? The answer has proven to be no, with only Ure and Lovelace getting any minutes so far this season (both under GvB). More B team players have made the bench in recent weeks but haven’t made it onto the pitch, still encouraging they’re involved at all though.
So, what’s the solution? These Rangers youngsters would definitely gain more from going out on loan at a higher level but there haven’t been many loan success stories in recent years, not for players coming back first team ready anyway. The club should look at the success some EPL clubs have had sending their youngsters to other European leagues for a year, the only issue with that is the uncertainty of interest in who Rangers currently have at youth level.
What do you think the solution is for better player development? Stay in the Lowland League, explore loan options at higher levels or something else?