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Did Rangers follow the Fiorentina blueprint last season?

One year on from nearly disappearing from existence how comparable was Rangers 2012-13 season to Fiorentina's 2002-03 campaign?

My first article for HITC was a story on Rangers; at the time frittering away into an abyss of financial turmoil and political infighting.

I found it comparable to the situation ten years previously when Fiorentina were expelled from Serie A for similar reasons.

Renamed as Florentia Viola they fought back from the bottom rung and I believed if Rangers could follow the same blueprint they too would be survive and even prosper.

So with optimism now blooming at Ibrox after a cantering promotion and expectation high of another in 2013-14 I decided to look back and see whether they did follow a similar style to Fiorentina.

Keeping hold of influential players

Fiorentina managed to keep hold of their key man in veteran captain Angelo Di Livio that summer and the Italian international had an excellent campaign as the clubs captain and icon for the fans.

Rangers have done similar but surpassed it.

They lost plenty of big names; Kyle Lafferty, Steven Naismith, Allan McGregor and Steven Davis to just scratch the surface.

But they kept hold of Neil Alexander, Lee McCulloch and Lee Wallace; three players who had magnificent campaigns as lynchpins in the side.

Keeping attendances high

Fiorentina broke many an attendance record in their 2002-03 season and a decade on Rangers did the same. The 50,048 fans who turned out to watch Berwick Rangers on the 4th May 2013 is a Third Division record and the average attendance of 45,750 was the 18th best in Europe; more than the likes of Inter Milan, Chelsea, Galatasaray and Liverpool.

So the fans were certainly not put off.

Benefitting from a league revamp

Fiorentina got off lucky when a league revamp in the summer of 2003 saw them inducted to Serie B on ‘historical merit’.

Now while the Scottish Football League is also undergoing a renovation of its own Rangers will not be fast-tracked to the brink of Premier League football.

They will have to do it the hard way.

Loaning in exciting youngsters

In this respect they certainly differed. Italian football, especially at the turn of the century, saw many a player going out on loan and that saw Florentia Viola bring in the likes of Fabio Quagliarella and Alessandro Diamanti on loan deals.

Rangers differed and instead utilised their young players far more effectively than their Italian counterparts.

The likes of Andrew Little, Lewis Macleod and Kyle Hutton were all integral to their successful season.

Transfer market supremacy

Perhaps the key has been the Rangers brand.

Like how Fiorentina attracted the best in lower league talent such as Cristian Rigano to the club Rangers have done similar.

The likes of Sebastian Faure, Emilson Cribari, Dean Shiels, Ian Black and David Templeton were excellent signings playing way below their ability.

Next season will be no different with Jon Daly, Cammy Bell, Steven Smith and Richard Foster all arriving; not to mention Nicky Clark who banged in 41 goals in 46 games for Queen of the South last season.

So they didn’t exactly follow it to the letter; there are clearly some glaring differences. But you would expect nothing else from Rangers; as if they are going to rise back to the top you can be sure they will be doing it in their own timeless style.

image: © tom brogan

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