David Weir: £100m not enough for Rangers to match Celtic

David Weir has warned the Rangers supporters that even £100 million of investment may not be enough to bridge the gulf between Celtic and the Ibrox club.

Rangers assistant manager David Weir is honoured with a Brick Panel. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Rangers assistant manager David Weir is honoured with a Brick Panel. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

Rangers are 19 points behind the Scottish champions at the top of the Scottish Premiership table going into the second half of the season.

Former managers Walter Smith and Stuart McCall have both claimed in recent days that only a significant degree of financial backing in the 
transfer market will provide current boss Mark Warburton
with a chance to take Rangers back to the summit of the domestic game.

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But assistant boss Weir insists he and Warburton can only seek to close the gap on Celtic through a longer-term strategy, underpinned by youth development, which focuses on bringing greater stability to a club currently being funded by soft loans from chairman Dave King and some of his fellow directors and investors.

Weir, who played for the last Rangers team to be crowned Scottish champions in 2011 before the club’s financial collapse the following year, admits the current superiority of a Celtic side on their way to a sixth consecutive title presents a daunting set of circumstances for the Ibrox men.

“It is what it is, it’s not ideal from our point of view,” said Weir. “Obviously we don’t like it but there is a gap because Celtic have invested and they’ve been playing at a great level, they’ve got a team full of international players that they’re constantly improving.

“Rangers haven’t been, 
Rangers have been in the backwaters for the last four or five years and haven’t really invested in the squad.

“So how do you bridge that gap? Well, unless you’re spending £100 million or whatever the figure may be – and even that doesn’t guarantee anything.

“I would never question 
Walter Smith or Stuart McCall or anyone who has been manager of this club, because they’ve walked in the shoes before us. But we’ve got to deal with the situation we’ve got.

“I understand their reasons for saying money needs to be spent and it would be great if that was the case but we’ve got to work within the parameters and what we’ve been employed for.

“You’ve got to do it slowly, you’ve got to do it through a process and by constantly improving players, the environment, the challenges you give the players, the youth department, you’ve got to constantly try to build up the whole structure of the club and the whole infrastructure of the club.

“It’s a big challenge. Nineteen points is too big a gap from Rangers point of view, but it represents where we are right now.”

Rangers have made two loan signings during the current transfer window, recruiting 20-year-old American midfielder Emerson Hyndman from Bournemouth and 21-year-old Spanish playmaker Jon Toral from Arsenal until the end of the season.

Looking further ahead, Weir is adamant Rangers will continue to try and give a more youthful look to the first team squad being moulded by Warburton.

“That is how we work,” added Weir. “That’s why we were brought here because we try and build for the future. You try and bring in young players and develop them and add experience to help them do that. You try and create an environment to allow that to happen.

“That’s what we do. Unless we are told any different, that is what we will continue to do.

‘We have brought some really good young players into Rangers. Some have been injured, some have done well, some are getting there. It’s a process. But here it is accelerated. More is demanded, where at our previous club Brentford that wasn’t the case. You could develop them under the radar.

“Mark has a history in youth development. We’ve worked at Brentford and brought players in and tried to improve them. Andre Gray went for £9 million, Moses Odubajo for £5 million, James Tarkowski for £5 million and Scott Hogan looks like being the next for anything up to £15 million.

“These were lads playing in League One or non-league and they were developed. It’s a process that takes time. It’s not a quick fix. It doesn’t happen by accident, it’s the work you do every single day.

“We’ve got to try and recruit the right players, make them better and fit them within your system. Football isn’t a science. We’ve changed 25 players in the 18 months we have been at Rangers. It’s too many. It’s really difficult to get one transfer right but to get 25 right in such a short space of time is impossible with all the variables that go into it to actually make it work. Everything needs time to be a success.”