Football: Rangers urged to look locally

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Peter Keeling has been employed as a football coach in Scandinavia for the past 16 years and knows what makes the Swedes tick. He believes that the Rangers manager, Walter Smith, should rely more on local youth than expensive foreign imports.

Keeling was not in the least surprised that part-time IFK Gothenburg claimed a place in the Champions' League on Wednesday with a 4-1 aggregate win over Scotland's finest.

The Manchester-based Keeling, the head coach of the Swedish Third Division leaders Linkopping, said yesterday: "I think Swedish players are quite capable of changing the course of a match by themselves. That's the difference. Because players here are only part-time, they are well aware of what goes on in the world outside football. They are used to making decisions for themselves in their everyday life and they take that into their football.

"Players in Britain are cossetted. At some clubs they don't even have to bother looking after their own passports. When they finish at 32 and 33 they have may have plenty of experience of night clubs but no real experience of the outside world."

Keeling, a former international athlete, added: "Gothenburg have a framework in place, like many Swedish clubs, that has served them well over the years. They bring boys in at eight and the accent is on technique and teamwork with different coaches at different age levels. But the youngsters are encouraged to use their skills. Of course results are important, but the Swedes tend to be quite patient in this respect. They don't demand instant success.

"Even though Linkopping are a small club, we have a similar framework in place and it is paying dividends. We encourage local lads and are making progress. Rangers tend to buy players for their image, not what they can actually do. It is a policy that has proved their undoing in Europe and perhaps it is time they changed it."

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