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Solving The Ranger Problem

8 years ago
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Anyone attending Alan Pardew’s talk-in at St James’ Park earlier this week will have heard him draw a clear line under Nile Ranger’s Newcastle career by declaring that the self-styled gangster/footballer will never play for Newcastle again while Pardew is in charge.

Meanwhile, anyone who follows the gangster/footballer hybrid himself on Twitter will have seen how he responded the following day. A series of digs at Pardew and the club effectively saying “I’ve got another four years on my contract and there’s nothing you can do about it”.

Which does leave you wondering just what the club can actually do, and that boils down to three basic options; keep him, sell him or loan him out for the next four years.

Loaning him out just to keep him out of the way seems to be the most obvious course of action the club will take. If Pardew has given up on him he can only be a negative presence on the training ground, after all. This is a man who already has a long track record for troublemaking, frequently in trouble with the police and a safe bet to get the club in the headlines for the wrong reasons at least twice a season. For slightly less obvious reasons (difficult character, bad attitude in training, lack of ability?) the club seems to have opted for that approach with Xisco.

Still officially our player, still on a very lucrative contract, but loaned out to anyone who will have him on a season-by-season basis. If the rumours are true about Mike Ashley buying a stake in Rangers and loaning some of our players to them, they’re bound to be thrilled to have a player with the same name as them. It might just work..

Is there anything to be gained by keeping him? What we have at the club is a lad who is still only 21 and I can only speak from experience in saying that I still had a lot to learn at that age. On occasions when he’s appeared for the first team there’s definitely a hint of ability there. We’ve seen how hard Pardew has had to work to get into the complicated mind of Hatem Ben Arfa and bring the best out of him – does Wor Nile just need a bit of TLC to get him to behave?

As “Da Realisssttt” himself (another Twitter reference, there) points out, we’re stuck with him for four years anyway so maybe he has to be persevered with? In the last ten years or so this is a club who has had to work hard to manage the mindset of frustrating characters like Dyer, Bramble, Ben Arfa, Robert, Bowyer, N’Zogbia, Barton etc. You would think that perhaps enough lessons had been learned within the club to manage such difficult personalities.

Then again, you could argue of course that the big lesson to learn is not to sign these knackers in the first place. Unless they’re prodigiously talented (I refer you to Ben Arfa once again) then are they really worth devoting that much time and effort to? In the case of Ranger it’s not as if he hasn’t been given chances, but in his case it seems that showing any faith in him just makes things worse. Since being given his five-and-a-half year deal back in December 2010 he’s been in trouble with the police on a couple of occasions, as well as running into Twitter-related bother with the FA both for posing with a gun and for homophobic abuse.

In this Olympic afterglow of virtuous, admirable, hard-working people earning huge public affection for their sporting efforts it has become easy to use this to shine a light on obnoxious footballers with all of their money and arrogance. Of course this is generalising – there are many good people in football, indeed we seem to have a group of really solid characters in the first team squad just now – but the likes of Nile Ranger make it too easy for the critics.

Not for him the aspiration of glory and success, not for him many hours of extra work on the training ground to give himself that extra 1% to be the best he can be. From the moment he was given a big contract at a Premier League club he had “made it”. He had the money, he had the status, he had nothing more to work for. I have the utmost faith in Pardew and the decisions he makes at the club; he’s earned that faith with the squad that he’s developed and the work he has put into maintaining the unity Chris Hughton created. So if Alan Pardew has given up on Nile Ranger that says to me he’s been given all the chances he deserves. If we can find a club willing to take a risk on him then it’s time for him to go. Team spirit can be a delicate thing. If the gangster stays, I dread to think what the future will bring!

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