Alan Nixon for The Sun has reported that Rochdale took ‘Football Bad Boy Nile Ranger’ on a secret trial last week, with Keith Hill hoping he will sign in an effort to bolster Rochdale’s attacking options. They have been heavily over-reliant on talisman Ian Henderson this season playing his part in 20 of their 36 (15 Goals & 5 Assists) scored in the league, which shows he is directly involved in over half their goals scored.
Nile Ranger has had a troubled past which has badly affected his football career, after making his debut back in 2009 for Newcastle. Even before that though he nearly never had a career to begin with, whilst playing for Southampton as a youth player, he was sentenced to 11 weeks in a young offenders institute for his part in an armed street robbery. He did return to Southampton after completing his sentence but they released him shortly after with a bad reputation.
After his release, Swindon offered him a contract but it was then Newcastle Director of Football Dennis Wise that brought him to St James Park in 2008. He impressed that much in reserve and academy games that he was offered a 3 and a half year contract and made his first-team debut in August 2009. After impressing that season he then signed a 5 and a half year contract in December 2010 a move that proved to be a very poor bit of business by Newcastle. In January 2013 after criticising Newcastle fans on Twitter for booing the team after a recent 2-1 loss to Reading, he left by Mutual consent in March, 3 years earlier than his contract ran to.
Swindon got their man in August 2013 with Ranger signing a 1-year contract despite battling an ongoing rape case. It all started to unravel again in November after a successful start to the season. As he failed to report to the club for training after being given a period of leave, he did, however, manage to last till May after again his contract was mutually terminated.
Blackpool was his next destination signing in August 2014 before going AWOL in December, claiming he had family issues and returned to London, in January Blackpool began to fine him for every day he was absent. In May 2015 after being relegated, Blackpool released 17 players but decided to take up an option to extend Rangers contract by another year. He didn’t return to the club til July missing Blackpool’s first 4 friendlies, he did issue an apology but left the club in February 2016.
Southend were next to gamble on Ranger, announcing his signing in August 2016 he started well and signed a new contract in December taking him up until 2020. However the problems began again as he started the 17/18 season in prison for online banking fraud. Southend stood by him and when he was released from Prison he was originally placed in a 7pm Curfew tag meaning he couldn’t play any evening games, in September the tag was removed and he scored in a 4-2 away win against Fleetwood. Once again it wouldn’t last though as eventually in January 2018 his contract was terminated with Southend for perhaps his daftest reason to date as it was terminated largely due to being consistently late for team meetings and games.
As you can see his career has been plagued by inconsistencies and disciplinary issues, and I have previously been very critical of him so it would be very hypocritical of me to suggest I believe he is the right man for Rochdale. It looks like Keith Hill is trying to fix another players career which is on the downturn as he has done with many players previously, but I believe this would be his biggest challenge to date, although I understand it’s a roll of the dice for a team desperately short on firepower. I personally believe its a gamble not worth taking on a player who has had several chances previously.