Fraser Aird insists he would welcome competition from more experienced campaigners next season as Rangers boss Ally McCoist seeks to bolster his squad.
Rangers 1-0 Berwick Rangers
Scorer: Rangers - Aird (32)
The 18-year-old scored the only goal in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Berwick before the Irn-Bru Third Division champions were presented with the trophy in front of a packed Ibrox.
Aird is one of a number of youngsters who have impressed after being thrust into the spotlight as Rangers started from scratch in Scottish football’s bottom tier. But the midfielder believes more senior professionals are needed at the club next term as they continue the journey back to the top.
Aird said: “Hopefully the gaffer does bring in a lot of older boys and experience. It was the experienced boys who took us over the line this year because they have been there and done it – the likes of Lee McCulloch and Neil Alexander. So the older boys he brings in will hopefully just make us better. We want to win the championship again next year so hopefully he brings in enough players and keeps the right balance with the young boys and we can win it again.
“It’s been a long journey to be honest. For us young boys getting a chance this year has been brilliant. I don’t think any of us thought at the start of the year that this would have happened to us. It’s experience and we’ve got to take that with us and move on for next year.”
For his part, McCoist struck a realistic note on the calibre of his likely summer signings, emphasising that next season’s challenge will prove to be a tough one given that Rangers are still operating under a transfer embargo which restrcts them to registering only free agents from 1 September.
“With the greatest of respect, we are bringing in free transfers,” he said.
“Before I sound as though I’m criticising the people that we hope to bring in, you are a free transfer for a reason.
“We’re not going to get the best youngsters. It ain’t going to happen. If people think we are going to go out and sign boys at 22, 23, 24, who have a tremendous future ahead of them, that’s not going to happen because they are not going to be free transfers.
“We will have to get a group of players who are going to get us out of the next division, hopefully with the same margin of points but with one or two better performances.”
McCoist made light of reports of a leaked document, apparently written by an investor outlining his vision for the club, which reportedly involved removing McCoist and bringing Dutch legends Johan Cruyff or Frank Rijkaard to Rangers.
The manager said: “I believe the person who did it was an electrician. If that’s the case, I’m heading straight home to do a thesis on the way forward for electrical engineering.”
Asked if he was confident of proving he is the man for Rangers, he said: “I just want the opportunity to do that. I’ll be honest, I don’t think there will be massive amounts of change for next season.”
Meanwhile, Canadian-born Aird ensured Rangers brought down the curtain on the season with a win, while Berwick were able to seal a play-off spot despite the defeat.
It will be a few years before the teenager is able to savour the Champions League experience with Rangers but he likened Saturday’s title party in front of more than 50,000 fans to a top European night.
He said: “It was a brilliant experience playing in front of an absolutely sold out Ibrox. It felt like a Champions League night out there.
“Scoring my first goal at Ibrox means a lot to me and scoring it on such a big day means even more.”
He added: “My family who are over here were at the game and the rest of my family back home would have been watching it. The Toronto No 1 Supporters Club put on a big breakfast, so I’m sure there were a number of folk over there watching and supporting me, so I’m delighted.”
And, amid all the celebrations yesterday, Aird admitted there was one overriding emotion. He said: “It is just a big relief. a big weight has been lifted off our shoulders. We won the league a couple of weeks ago but finally getting the trophy means a lot and those medals mean a lot to the boys. It’s the first championship for a lot of us and hopefully there is a lot more to come in the future.”