DEAN Shiels has delivered a not so thinly veiled attack on the management style and coaching capabilities of Ally McCoist with a gushing validation of the methods of new manager Mark Warburton.
The 30-year-old was a surprisingly peripheral figure during the past three seasons given that he arrived at Ibrox on the back of a PFA Scotland Player of the Year nomination.
The Northern Irishman now feels he has the perfect environment to thrive, and his positivity over Warburton’s methods surely doubles as criticism of what went before.
Shiels, pictured, said: “It’s been really good. It’s been fresh, it’s been new. It’s been really professional and the lads have all bought into it. It’s been a new style of doing things.
“Everything’s structured and pre-planned. There’s no stone left unturned. Every small detail’s covered. Everything’s prepared for the lads when they go out on the Saturday.
“It has been the most enjoyable pre-season I’ve had. It’s been really, really enjoyable. I think of years gone by when you used to get run ragged round a pitch and didn’t see a ball for a week.
“But this pre-season everything we’ve done has been with the ball, technical stuff, and tactical stuff. Even although the running has been tough at times, but it’s always been with the ball. The lads have enjoyed it. They prefer it that way.
“I think Mark Warburton is the ideal manager for me right now. Obviously looking from the outside, I watched Brentford quite a few times and they were always quite impressive on how they went about their business and how they tried to play football from the back out and through the midfield.
“Hopefully that can only benefit me and the rest of the lads. Obviously every manager has a different way of wanting to do things. So hopefully the lads will buy into his style and hopefully we can be successful”
Shiels started just 43 league matches over the past three seasons as Rangers climbed two divisions and then stalled in the Championship, ultimately being humiliated by Motherwell in the play-off final. He showed glimpses of his ability at the tail-end of last season when Stuart McCall tried to drag Rangers over the line, and he is desperately keen to be given a concerted chance under Warburton.
He said: “My lack of matches was just down to each manager’s decisions. Every manager tries to do their best to help the team the best they can and that comes down to making their decisions.
“Last season’s gone. It was a failure and we’ve put that behind us.”
Warburton’s preferred formation is 4-3-3 and Shiels covets the central midfield slot where he hopes he can dictate play.
He has had what he considers a healthy conversation with Warburton and Weir, and his take is there is a place for him if he performs to the right standard.
He said: “I’m quite happy with what they had to say. So obviously it’s up to me to do my best when I get the chance to play.
“At the moment I’ve been playing in the middle and I quite enjoy it in there. I can play wide as well, but I prefer it in the middle. However, we’ll just wait and see.
“Obviously, you’ve got to be flexible, there’s a lot of rotation in the midfield, particularly when we’re in possession. Everything’s done sharp in training, there’s no slacking off in passing drills.
“I think the lads have realised this is a year where we have to do the business and get out of this league.”