Why Nerlinger move is right idea at wrong time for Rangers

THEY say in football that you should never go back.

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Christian Nerlinger worked as Bayern Munich's general manager
Christian Nerlinger worked as Bayern Munich's general manager

It is not a theory Ally McCoist has adhered to in recent years as a number of familiar faces have made their way through the crested gates of Murray Park or climbed the famous marble staircase at Ibrox.

Another former Ranger is now set for a return to the club and it could prove to be the most interesting, yet divisive, arrival of the McCoist era.

As revealed in SportTimes last week, the next man through the door could well be Christian Nerlinger.

The German won't jet into Glasgow to play, however. Instead, he will come suited and booted and given a desk rather than a squad number.

A decade after he quit Ibrox at the end of an injury-hit three-year spell, he is now poised to clinch a dramatic return and become the first piece of Graham Wallace's blueprint for the future.

When Wallace unveiled his business review earlier this year, he announced Rangers would look to appoint a chief football operations officer.

The new man, it was claimed, would assist the manager and the board and develop the infrastructure, badly under-funded and neglected in recent years, at Ibrox and Murray Park.

The idea was hardly given a firm backing by McCoist when he was asked about it shortly after Wallace's review was released and, as revealed in SportTimes today, the Gers boss still has questions he needs answered by his chief executive, who has held discussions with Nerlinger and is close to getting his man.

The German's arrival is a case of a good idea at the wrong time, however - he is not the answer to Rangers' problems.

Rangers have blown their chance of overhauling the way they are run on and off the field as the men in suits have frittered away around £70million in the last two seasons and they are now playing catch-up.

A fresh outlook, a new way of thinking, would be welcomed, but only at the right moment.

Rangers have been short-sighted for too long but with the future at boardroom level and financial picture uncertain, making the most of their hand day-to-day is the only way they can operate, for now.

Nerlinger has been out of work for two years since leaving Bayern Munich, where, despite enjoying an impressive rise through the ranks, he was moved on and replaced by Matthias Sammer after failing to convince the Die Roten hierarchy he was the man to take them to the next level.

"That was the board's decision," boss Jupp Heynckes said after Nerlinger's departure from the Allianz Arena in 2012.

"I spent a year with Christian Nerlinger in confidence. He is very shy, and his statements are balanced. He is not one to polarise situations, and therefore, every now and then, normal fans do not like him.

"The fact that we did not achieve our goals lies first and foremost with the team, and then it goes to the general manager."

Whatever the title, director of football-type positions have never really worked on these shores and it is a risk for Rangers to go down this route at this time, especially when there is still distrust between the terraces and boardroom.

One day, when a sense of calm has returned to Ibrox, the appointment of Nerlinger, or someone similarly qualified to fill a similar position, could be an interesting, forward-thinking move for Rangers.

But, right here, right now, Nerlinger is not the answer and it is Wallace who is facing some tough questions.


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