RANGERS’ form so far in season 2020/21 has won admiring glances from football afficionados right across Europe.
The results, first and foremost, have been fantastic to this point, as has the incredible defensive record, the number of goals scored, and the style of play which is so pleasing on the eye.
The players and the recognisable faces of the coaching staff have rightly and understandably won so much of the praise so far for their superb efforts – but behind them are numerous, highly-skilled and highly-talented individuals and departments to ensure the product on the park every week is of the highest-possible quality.
Whether that be recruitment, sports science, medical, nutrition or player welfare, so many people often hidden from view must take massive credit for what has been seen on the park so far.
Added to that list is the analysis department, who will work closely not only with the first-team coaching staff, but all of those other departments – very much in-keeping with Sporting Director Ross Wilson’s ‘one-club’ ideology.
One of three members of the analysis department is Scott Mason, who joined Gers from Liverpool in the summer of 2019.
In an extensive interview you can see now on RangersTV, he began by outlining his department, and also the work they will do on a day-to-day basis.
"There are three of us within the department,” Mason explained. “There's myself, Graeme [Stevenson] and Seb [Dunn] who has come on board not long ago.
"In-terms of my role, and what I do, I look after the postmatch analysis. So after the game, I'll go through and look at where we were strong and look at where we can possibly improve.
"I'll then feed that back to the coaches and also look at how it impacts upon our philosophy and how our style of play is dictated to within that game.
"Also within that, we are trying to look at the improvement of individual players. So through conversations or trends I see along maybe three or four games, how can I put forward the clips or support the players in suggesting ways in which they can improve, or just highlight areas in which they are doing really well.
"So that is my role day to day.
"We have got to be a multi-disciplinary department and support other departments. We want to be able to interact and help with the Academy where we can, sports science, recruitment and ultimately, the main aim is to look after the players and the coaching staff with the common goal of achieving what we want to at the end of the season.
"But as a department, we will try and spread ourselves across everyone and support where we can."
The stoppage of professional sport from March to June last year allowed time for so many departments across the club to take stock and reassess a number of their working practices.
That too was the case for the analysts, who used the period to hone the work they do to ensure they too are providing the best possible information on a daily basis.
"It gave us an opportunity to have a look at what we are doing at the minute,” Mason continued. “We had more time than we normally would have in the building, so being able to sit down and talk around our processes up to now, what we could improve, what has been good so far and what we can carry on.
"That was also the same with the coaching staff. We spoke to them and said, 'how is this looking' and 'do we want to keep this' and 'do we want to change this?'
"It gave us a real opportunity to do that. In-terms of working with other departments, it also helps as we had more time. So we worked quite closely with the recruitment department over the [first] lockdown looking at various player profiles and trying to build that around our style of play.
"So it obviously had its issues, but it was a big opportunity for us to re-evaluate our processes and see how we could change things or keep things going moving forward.
"Everyone has played their part. We have made a solid start to the season, but there is still a long way to go. What is encouraging is all departments and people involved are all pulling in the same direction which is big.
"I wouldn't say anyone's work is more important than anyone else's, but I think with the clarity we are trying to give as analysts and coaches to players, I think it has been a real benefit and it is hopefully telling on the pitch and we can carry on working, moving forward and continuing there to our end goal."
The work of the analysis department doesn’t simply stop at reviewing the last match, however, with extensive work always being done to prepare Rangers for the challenge of their next opponent.
Again, this is done in conjunction with the whole coaching staff, and while the staff will always insist the main focus is on what their team can bring to the game, nothing is left to task when it comes to assessing the threats they may face.
"It is a joint effort leading into the next game,” said Mason. “I will debrief what we have done in the previous game and pick out anything I feel is relevant.
"Graeme will do the prematch analysis, so he will have a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition.
"Then there will maybe be one or two bits the coaching staff would like to add as well. So with all of that, we try to bring it all together within a meeting.
"It is a collaborate effort. I might add a bit from my end, Graeme his side and also then the coaching staff in order to give the players a game plan that we think will work for that game."
That relationship with the coaching staff is absolutely critical to the success of the analysis department’s work.
Key to that is an openness where everyone can express their own viewpoint on what should happen before and during a match.
Mason added: "The coaching staff are really open to the analysis and how we work. We work really closely with them day-to-day and I don't think it is about influencing - I think it is just suggesting things we see.
"We might have a slightly different viewpoint just because we view things differently and we are away from their office.
"So the talk they have might be different to the talk we have. We are in a position that we can go and suggest anything at anytime.
"That doesn't always mean it is taken on and we use it - sometimes we do and sometimes we don't. Whatever we feel is right for the players and that game, or how we see the game looking.
"In-terms of a matchday, I will be talking to the coaching staff regularly during the game, and again, it is just bouncing ideas - things that I see, things that they see. I sit away from the game which helps take the emotion out of what I see.
"And then from there, we will gather our thoughts and ideas and see how it links into half time and how we want the game to look."