Mark Allen has been Rangers’ Director of Football for over a year now, and he is an appointment that mirrors the direction the Glasgow outfit is heading, on the way up.
Allen had been Manchester City’s academy director since 2009. In which time Allen has overseen the move to the Etihad Campus and more importantly to Allen, the City Football Academy.
When he did take to his role in 2009, academy graduates weren’t a priority at that time. Allen told Off The Post: “The clubs short-term strategy [in 2009] is that we need to get winning stuff and getting City on the map”. This was evident as, after two years in his role, City won the FA Cup, their first piece of silverware in 35 years. However, the strategy took its toll on the academy as prospects flourishing now such as Kieran Trippier and Denis Suarez did slip City’s grasp.
When the CFA was built, it seemed like there was a change to how the academy was regarded. Allen helped to get all City sides playing in the same manner, as he has said: “My initial reaction to that was we need to create a philosophy in the way we play”. As well as making City’s youngsters better equipped for first-team football, he has also played a key role in overseeing the transition of starlets such as Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz into the first-team.
Despite Allen undertaking a largely different role at Rangers, the principles remain the same that he must oversee everything that goes on and help enhance the component of the club he is in charge of. This time, it is the entire football club, rather than just the academy sector.
When appointed, Allen stuck with Pedro Caixinha as boss and backed him with multiple Portuguese and Mexican signings, but the additions didn’t work to great effect as Caixinha was sacked just over two months into the season. However, a bright spark also signed that season, known as Alfredo Morelos gave Allen something to smile about notching 20 goals in all competitions in a season that saw three different managers.
Allen chose Steven Gerrard as the next boss in his first managerial role, and one that Allen and Gers fans alike hope can help reinvigorate them to knock Celtic off their perch at the top of Scottish football. Gerrard has been backed with players he is aware of from Liverpool that he has worked with both playing together and in the academy; Jon Flanagan; Ryan Kent; and Ovie Ejaria alongside players that know the Scottish league well in Jamie Murphy, Kyle Lafferty and Allan Mcgregor. Allen and Gerrard have a long way to go, but they are both two additions that signal the intent from Rangers to reinstate their dominance in Scotland.