Big Eck has decided to use the team jolly to Dubai to run the rule over some potential defensive cover. Jerome Bonnissel of Bordeaux and Dan Eggen of Alaves will spend some time with the Rangers squad in Dubai with a view to both coming to the club until the end of the season.
None of us seem to be under any illusions about the quality in depth of our defensive set up. Its not outrageous to suggest that defensive cover is the most commonly voiced concern on the boards. It seems clear that Amoruso and Moore are the preferred central defensive partnership when both are fit and not suspended. While we have a number of players who can cover in the middle in the absence of our starting pair, none of them have ever convinced. Right back is less of a worry with Ross, Muscat, Bob Malcolm and Ricksen all appearing to be adequate fullbacks, and crucially, durable players who can do a job and avoid long term injury. However, in the frequent absence of Arthur Numan left full back is a worry. Michael Ball is just not an option this season. And as one FFer said last week, Numan seems to have a clause in his contract that says for every five games played Arthur is allowed a three game rest. Apart from those two we have bugger all. Not good enough.
So where do Bonnissel and Eggen fit in? First thing to say is that both players have had injury problems over the last two seasons and have not played an awful lot of football in the past year. Both have had knee worries, but reassuringly both appear to be clear of the problems and fit despite being unable to force their way back into their respective clubs' first teams. Secondly both are free agents in summer 2003, and neither are seen as having long term futures as first team players at their respective clubs. So naturally both players and clubs are looking to sort out their futures.
Firstly Bonnissel. Can play either left full back or left midfield. He has played for Montpellier, Deportivo La Coruna and laterally Bordeaux. He has both French Espoir and "A" international honours. Just think of the quality of full back the French have produced in the last ten years. This lad is no mug if he has even got close to international consideration. Prior to picking up a knee knock last season he was regarded as one of the better attacking full backs in the French D1. He is genuinely quick, and renowned as a very hard working 100%er with good physical fitness and a great engine. He is a good crosser of the ball and has good distribution in general. The tag you tended to find most often attached to Bonnissel was "bucaneering". A cliche I know, but gives you an indicaion of his style.
Secondly Eggen. Most of us will remember Dan Eggen from the World Cup in France five years ago. The Norwegian was probably at his peak back then and was a very solid performer indeed. A natural defensive leader with considerable arial prowess. So solid in fact that he has held down a place for several years in La Liga. No mug then. Whats the catch? At 33 more good years behind than in front. And akin to every potential Rangers signing these days it seems, he has had serious knee problems. Ligaments went a couple of years ago after colliding with a post playing for Alaves in a 5-0 drubbing by Real Madrid.
Lest face it people. We are no longer shopping at the footballing equivalent of Harrods. Hell, even Sainsburys is probably now out of our reach. But if we are going to go to the market to strengthen then players with proven top class pedigree can be the only way forward. Particularly when short term deals are the order of the day. The crucial question we all have to ask is can any player we are considering add something to our current squad. In the cases of Bonnissel and Eggen the answer has to be yes given the dearth of cover at both centre half and left full back.