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Irresistible rise of the running man


Muff
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Alan Hutton, at his current rate of progress, might not be simply the long-awaited solution to Rangers' historically problem position as a genuine throwback to the iconic favourites, Sandy Jardine and John Greig.

There are increasing concerns that Hutton's own Ibrox career is destined to be short-lived, despite the club's insistence that they will not entertain the growing clamour for their revitalised right back. Over the next six weeks, Walter Smith and Martin Bain will attempt to ensure the 22-year-old's remarkable, defiant transformation does not result in a departure during the January transfer window. Privately, they may be bracing themselves for an offer they can't refuse.

Expressions of interest and admiration from Manchester United, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur are a world away from earlier suspicions that Hutton would merely be the latest in a succession of comet-like youngsters to eclipse as quickly as they illuminated.

Was it really only last year that the contemptuous youngster was regarded as little more than a scowling upstart by Paul Le Guen? The right back who was reluctantly promoted only after Fernando Ricksen's final indiscretion was succeeded by Phil Bardsley breaking with the unfathomable non-contact rules during training to cement Thomas Buffel? Recently, Le Guen revealed that, far from holding a grudge over the errant youngster, the Frenchman actually contemplated an offer to reunited at Paris Saint Germain. Hutton would rather roll down his socks Mo Johnston style than willingly engage with the man he believed tried to ruin his career and his club. Smith, among many laudable repairs during his second term of office at Rangers, can claim singular responsibility for the new-found attitude and aptitude of a one wayward talent.

Implicated in the perceived axis of evil' that conspired against Le Guen, Hutton did not require to wait long for his forceful introduction to the new manager. The precise details of their private meeting have since been speculated but the message was clear and the response resounding.

Hutton is not only an unrecognisable player but a superior physical specimen and a more contented individual since undertaking a personal reinvention. A staple of the Rangers' recovery and international first pick, it is an inescapable concern to Rangers that Hutton's gains may be their loss. He is now the club's greatest asset, in terms of market value, and a coveted commodity in the British game.

If he can eradicate the split-second judgement errors apparent during Scotland's 2-1 defeat to Italy, Hutton would be a near-flawless full back. Already this season, he has faced Thierry Henry, Ronaldinho and Antonio Di Natale and not been found wanting for pace. He has the drive and determination of a winger and has honed a profitable delivery while running at full-pelt. Hutton has also curbed the impetuous, rash streak in his tackling. His development is at odds with the pragmatic strategy of Smith, simply because Hutton has improved at a more rapid rate than the rest of the new-look team.

Having only recently won prominence in the Rangers first team, there are few more accomplished right backs in Britain. Gary Neville is nearing the end of a phenomenal career at Old Trafford with no sign of a replacement from within. Paolo Ferreira cost Chelsea £13m but is peripheral to their plans, while Juliano Beletti cost £5.5m from Barcelona and has yet to win over the supporters.

Tottenham Hotspur spent £4.5m on Pascal Chimbonda and have leaked goals with sieve-like frequency.

England's talent pool is so shallow that Steve McClaren had little alternative but to play Micah Richards, a centre-back with Manchester City, at right-back against Croatia last night. This week, Pat Nevin described Hutton as the best attack-minded full back Scotland have produced since Danny McGrain.

He is certainly the best Rangers have had since Gary Stevens. Smith, Dick Advocaat, Alex McLeish and Le Guen have all suffered from the positional jinx. Fernando Ricksen's greatest contribution to the club was as a central midfielder, Sergio Porrini was little more than an awkward-looking converted centre back, while Alex Cleland and Fraser Wishart were competent in a strictly defensive mode.

Thereafter, a succession of utility men filled the right-back berth with no great distinction: Dave McPherson, Tony Vidmar, Rino Gattuso and Bardsley. Craig Moore was a reluctant right back in the early days of his career, while Maurice Ross, lest it be forgotten, enjoyed similar feting to Hutton until his confidence crumbled under regular criticism from the support.

A Scottish internationalist once upon a time, Ross is now playing football in Norway.

Hutton has already proven superior to them all, and possibly a physiological rival to Stevens; whose capacity for running earned him the nickname, Freak. There is nothing freakish about Hutton's rejuvenation. He must now decide whether his future is better served at the club that gave him a second chance after a leg break and outbreak of delinquency, or continue his ascent in the glamour league that now appears a destined platform on which to exhibit his talent.

Possible destinations

Manchester United

Gary Neville is nearing the end of his career and Sir Alex Ferguson is on the lookout for a long-term successor at right-back with Gerard Pique strongly linked with a return to Spain.

Tottenham Hotspur

Juande Ramos built his Sevilla side around the marauding Daniel Alves, and Hutton has a similar - if less flamboyant - attacking style to the Brazilian.

Newcastle United

The right-back slot has long been a problem for the St James' Park outfit. Stephen Carr has never really fulfilled his potential while Habib Beye has struggled to impress since arriving from Marseille.

Manchester City

Eastlands is probably Hutton's least likely destination given Vedran Corluka's impressive start to life in the Premiership. But the Croat has looked equally comfortable at centre-half and Hutton would provide options for manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

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If the player is happy and the club don't want to seel him then why would we need to sell him?

Despite the money they have at their disposal teams like Utd and Chelsea aren't going to pay about 10 million for a player who can't even play in the Champions League.

We'll keep him until the summer IMO.

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cracking article. Mo ross playing in norway lol. He actually looked like he had a lot of potential at one stage but he just didnt have the mentality and when he got booed he just got worse and worse. Couldnt even make it at sheffield wednesday which says a lot. I hope we can hold onto hutton at least for another couple of years. If he has any sense he will stay at ibrox his whole career but thats rare these days. Hes only 22 so he has plenty of time to try out other leagues in the future. He would be better staying at ibrox for a couple of years and continue his development.

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Now I wasn't a Le Guen fan but how exactly did PLG try to ruin Hutton's career?

It's a good point.

Perhaps by bringing in Bardsley he, in fact, helped resurrect it.

Hutton was dropped then given a long run. He was playing p*sh and us fans wanted him dropped, Le Guen saw something and stuck by him.

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I got told Mo Ross & Stephen Hughes used to go around like big shots thinking they were going to the top (tu)

Both were mediocre at best. Mo Ross spent too much time in Fatty's and the Mardi in Dundee and he is a f*cken dick!

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Hutton was dropped then given a long run. He was playing p*sh and us fans wanted him dropped, Le Guen saw something and stuck by him.

Exactly. PLG laid down the gauntlet to Hutton and the lad has responded perfectly...

Maybe we should also thank Bardsley for being a clown... ;)

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Hutton was dropped then given a long run. He was playing p*sh and us fans wanted him dropped, Le Guen saw something and stuck by him.

Exactly. PLG laid down the gauntlet to Hutton and the lad has responded perfectly...

Maybe we should also thank Bardsley for being a clown... ;)

Or thank le guen for his pussy training methods!

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To be fair I don't see a problem with PLG's training methods. He was obviously wanting to concentrate on the passing and movement with our players.

Too many people are quick to criticise a player who is not tough enough for the SPL - Beasley or Buffel for example. Probably the same people who criticised PLG's training methods.

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Hutton was dropped then given a long run. He was playing p*sh and us fans wanted him dropped, Le Guen saw something and stuck by him.

Exactly. PLG laid down the gauntlet to Hutton and the lad has responded perfectly...

Maybe we should also thank Bardsley for being a clown... ;)

I quite liked Bardsley actually...

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Is anyone else slightly worried that Hutton is being hyped up so much recently that his form may take a slight dip?

He has just been getting better and better all year, and long may it continue. Perhaps too much will be expected of him now?

I just hope someone behind the scenes is keeping his feet on the ground and keeping him level headed. From the interviews I have seen he is saying the right things, lets hope he feels the same away from the cameras aswell.

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