CRAIG MULHOLLAND needs Light Blues rather than Galacticos.

And the Rangers Head of Academy reckons the words of encouragement from his Real Madrid counterpart prove he has the right plan in place.

Last season, Mulholland saw his kids go head-to-head, and beat, some of the biggest names in England and Europe as part of Rangers’ Games Programme at Under-20s level.

Earlier this term, the Gers’ Under-17s beat Roma in the final of the Al Kass Cup to lift the silverware.

Now the challenge is to help those young talents progress into Steven Gerrard’s first team squad.

That is not an exact science, but Rangers hope the results will follow from their new methods.

READ MORE: Rangers and Celtic set to quit SPFL Reserve League in a bid to boost Academy teams

“There are 33 top leagues in Europe and 24 play with B teams,” Mulholland, a firm advocate of Colt teams being introduced into the SPFL structure, said. “The Ajax team that played the other night has eight that have played in B teams.

“So we are not trying to push something that is not already been well researched and doesn’t work. We are not reinventing the wheel. But what we are saying is that we, as a club, need to do something different and if we can’t necessarily get that in Scotland then we need to design something that are going to get our players from the Academy into the first team.

“If you look at all the teams we have played, and take Holland when we played Feyenoord and AZ Alkmaar, who are in a similar level to Ajax, our young lads have gone and played there. Take the Al Kass Cup we were at recently with Real Madrid, Roma, PSG, all those clubs.

“The Scottish boys didn’t just go there and sit and defend and hit on the counter attack like Scottish teams would have done years ago, but they went and dominated the ball.

“The Real Madrid coach was coming away saying ‘I love the style of play you have’. The Real Madrid coach was saying that about Scottish kids and a lot of them will now go and play at the top level. Until we change that bit in Scotland, we are not going to achieve that. It is so much right, but the top bit is critical.”


READ MORE: Celtic winger Michael Johnston admits practice makes perfect after Glasgow Cup free-kick

Rangers have invested significantly, in terms of both time and money, into the Academy system at the Hummel Training Centre.

The results have been mixed over the last week as the Under-18s lifted the Youth Cup and Under-20s lost in the Glasgow Cup as the Old Firm bragging rights were shared.

The person and the player go hand-in-hand for Mulholland.

He said: “I think our bit is to produce good players, but the players have got to do it in front of the manager. The manager has referred to the game against Liverpool last week and Josh came on and he was excellent, then he played in the cup final and he was excellent.

“It is OK us going to the manager and saying ‘this player is doing well at this level’, but they have got to show it in front of the manager. As Steven talks about it, it is not just about having good ability, you need to have the other bits. If you look at someone like Josh (McPake), he is really confident, he has no fear. We have to produce players that can go to first team level and do that.

“One of our key values at the Academy is to stay humble.


READ MORE: Graeme Murty proud of Rangers kids after Glasgow Cup defeat to Celtic

“We have had them round picking up litter at Ibrox after 50,000 fans come on a match day, we have had them out putting up the Christmas decorations, we are doing a week work experience with them.

“The young boys that were in the first team squad at the weekend must go and help Jimmy Bell with the kit. That is not done by chance, that is done by design because what we are not having at Rangers is boys who fit that stereotype of a young footballer.

“They need to be hungry, they need to be humble.

“If they get that bit right, that will help them as footballers as well.”