In this series, I’m going to scientifically investigate (not true) three players that have something in common (true). The players will be ranked based on the results of the in-depth scientific investigations (also not true it will purely be my opinion).
Now, it would make sense to start at the beginning and pick, sorry, analyse, the three top goalkeepers. However, that would be too easy, we all know Chris Woods, Andy Goram and Alan McGregor are 1-3 and in that order, eh? So, I’ve decided to start, such is the age of austerity, with the top three Bosman/free signings.
I’ve not established a set criteria or anything, it is pretty much a “my ball, my rules” kind of story. Initially, I thought this would be quite easy, then you remember the impact the likes of Jean-Claude Darcheville made in 2007/08 and, during the same period, Brahim Hemdani’s displays in European competition earning him an honourable mention.
I really wanted to pick Dado Prso. We signed him at the peak of his powers fresh from a Champions League Final appearance with Monaco in 2004. A fan’s favourite everywhere he went with his battering ram, all action and no-nonsense style. This doesn’t do credit to his technical skills though and his ability to bring others in to play not to mention a decent strike rate. Unfortunately, he had dodgy knees which meant we saw his considerable powers gradually wain over his three years at the club until his retirement from the game in 2007.
One player I wasn’t that bothered about picking was Rod Wallace. Yes, he scored a decent amount of goals especially in his first season in 98/99 and yes, he scored a few goals in massive Champions League and Old Firm games but I just never really took to him. I always felt that, in that team, we could’ve had almost anyone upfront and they would score as many goals. I also thought he could be replaced quite easily and for not much money whereas Dado Prso was a genuinely top class European player and would’ve cost a fortune to buy had he not been available for free. As I said, “my ball, my rules”.
So, who have I picked? Frank de Boer, Jean-Alain Boumsong and Davie Weir are the illustrious three.
Now then, I appreciate they aren’t the most exciting players or even (except Davie Weir) the most decorated in our clubs long and highly successful history but let me explain.
Frank de Boer is my favourite centre-half from that generation that includes Alessandro Nesta, Fabio Cannavaro, Jaap Stam et al. He was class, total class. Not only could he organise a defence, win his own personal battles but he had a wand of a left peg. THAT pass to Bergkamp in USA 94 is probably the most famous example of his passing range. He only played half a season for the club and was 34 at the time but I really don’t care, was he the last truly World Class player to play for Rangers? Oh, to have had him for the same duration as his brother Ronald…..
Jean-Alain Boumsong may seem a strange pick at first but then when you think about it, he is probably the best signing in the club’s history. Signed for free from Auxerre in the summer of 2004, he then left the club in January 2005 for £8 million. Imagine making £8 million on a player after just 4 months now! Yes, he strolled the league and could’ve become one of the best centre-halves the club has seen but, £8 million after four months!
Finally, and without design, another centre-half – Davie Weir. I know and fully understand that his post-playing career has been severely tainted by the Warburton era but I’m not looking at that. He arrived in January 2007 when we were a shambles after the disastrous reign of Paul le Guen.
What initially looked like being a stopgap, six-month deal ended up as four years worth of trophy-laden success and European adventures. When you sign a player at 37-years-old you don’t really expect them to be around for nearly four years but partnerships with Carlos Cuellar, Madjid Bougherra and Danny Wilson provided a solid base on which the success was built. The amount of money it would have taken to sign a centre-half that could lead and organise a defence to the same standard and of a younger age would’ve been huge.
I hold Davie Weir in the same regard as Ally McCoist, I accept people will always have different opinions on them but for me, they have to be remembered for their contribution to the club as players first and foremost. Weir was cut from the same cloth as Gough and Butcher when it came to his efforts in a blue jersey and how he represented the club off the park. All this is made all the more remarkable that he was 37-40 years old when he was at the club. We are screaming out for someone of his ilk now.
So that’s my first “Three of a Kind”, I have my reasons, I’m sure you’ll have yours!