IT IS common practice that when a new signing arrives at a football club he will take time to adapt to his surroundings and also to the footballing philosophy of his manager. That is particularly the case when the player is a loan signing.
Of course, it is rather less common that five players are simultaneously transplanted from one training ground to another, especially when the manager has played little (if any) part in their recruitment.
Given the unique set of circumstances, then, it was hardly surprising when Haris Vuckic, one fifth of the Newcastle United quintet who signed temporary contracts with Rangers on deadline day, claimed that it might be the case that it is Kenny McDowall’s side which may need to change in order to best accommodate them.
He certainly believes that he and his four club-mates – Remi Streete, Kevin Mbabu, Gael Bigirimana and Shane Ferguson – are capable of doing a job if all of them are selected to face Raith Rovers at Ibrox in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup on Sunday.
“That depends on the manager’s thoughts,” said the 22-year-old. “What we have to do is prepare ourselves by training well.
“If the manager puts us all in, that’s a bonus because we all know each other. We have been together for three or four years and we are not only team-mates, we are friends. We meet outside of football as well. We know our games, so it is going to be positive.
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“When you come to another club, you have to get used to a new style. But with five players coming in, maybe we can bring a new style to the game. It will be interesting to see how it is going to go.”
The Newcastle Five watched as Paul Dummett and Conor Newton moved to St Mirren on loan from St James’ Park two seasons ago. Newton, now with Rotherham United, scored the decisive goal in the 3-2 League Cup final win over Hearts, while Dummett has gone on to establish himself as a first-team player with Newcastle and has also been capped by Wales.
Rangers did not register a single attempt on target during Sunday’s 2-0 defeat by Celtic in the semi-final of the League Cup and currently trail Championship leaders Hearts by 16 points.
However, Slovenian midfielder Vuckic sees no reason why he and his friends cannot emulate Newton and Dummett by achieving Hampden glory and using it as a stepping stone to better things.
“That is one of our aims,” he said. “We are still in the Scottish Cup and we have a good chance. There is always a chance to win it if you are still in it.
“In the cup, you can always spring a surprise. Cup games are always different. I think we have a good chance still to win the cup. Teams who are not playing well can have good results.”
Even so, Vuckic confesses that he was initially reluctant to swap the Premier League for Scotland’s second tier until it was pointed out to him that opportunities of first-team football on Tyneside would be few and far between.
“I’m really delighted I am here,” he said. “I’m happy for the opportunity to play football. I wasn’t getting so many chances at Newcastle.
“This time I have to think about myself. I have to play football and come to Rangers, which is Scotland’s biggest club in the second league.
“We need to put the club where it belongs – in the Premier League – and all the lads are very excited to play football and put Rangers back there.
“I heard maybe three or four days ago. My agent called me and said, ‘Rangers is interested in you, what’s your thought?’
“To be honest, I was sceptical at first because I wanted to play for Newcastle but then I spoke to the gaffer, John Carver.
“He told me, ‘You need to play football and here I cannot guarantee you regular first-team matches so you need to go on loan’.
“He gave me advice to go to Rangers, a massive club which is doing well and pushing to go to the Premier League. I took the challenge and I can’t wait.”
Vuckic made his sole appearance for Slovenia as a substitute in the 1-1 draw against Scotland in Koper three years ago this month but he’s hoping his stint north of the border can revive his international career.
“The biggest game I’ve had was playing at Anfield against Liverpool: standing on the same pitch as Steven Gerrard was amazing,” he said.
“But to make my debut for Slovenia against Scotland was a dream come true. It is what every little boy dreams about and I hope I will get more call-ups now.
“I have not had many call-ups because I haven’t been playing for my club, but now I have a good opportunity not only to play football but to get the call from my country again. I need to play games and play well if I want to get that call.”