The fourth pillar of Rangers was the last one to be erected. In a summer where all the terminology has surrounded a rebuild or a revamp that construction process must be kept in mind.

The pillars analogy was first put forward by John Bennett, then deputy chairman and now the man leading the Ibrox board, a couple of years ago. It set out the foundations upon which a successful Rangers, in both football and business terms, would be run and involves engaging with supporters, competing in European competition and maximising commercial revenues.

The final part of the plan is player trading. There have been notable achievements in that regard with the sales of Nathan Patterson and Calvin Bassey, both record transactions at their respective moments, and Joe Aribo’s £6million move to Southampton last summer.

Glen Kamara’s departure for Leeds United netted Rangers more than £5million in the closing days of the transfer window and certainly falls into the positive column. Yet there was a realisation that the squad that finished last term did not have the requisite value – either on the park or on the balance sheet – that Rangers needed, and that situation had to be addressed in a period of wheeling and dealing that marked the end of an era at Ibrox. 

The ambition is for Rangers to be profitable in player trading terms in every window. It was clear, though, that such a situation was not going to be possible this time around, especially when one-time key assets like Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos left for free at the end of their contracts. Bennett and his board had to, therefore, commit to underwriting Michael Beale’s recruitment blueprint. By the time agent fees are taken into account, it is understood that Rangers have a net spend of close to £6m this summer.

Beale was backed by the board to oversee the process and he worked in tandem with John Park, the head of recruitment, as Neil Banfield and Mervyn Day provided experienced sounding boards. The departure of Ross Wilson, the sporting director, to Nottingham Forest in April had little impact on the scouting of potential recruits and the groundwork was already established by that stage as Beale spent the second half of the campaign with one eye on the present and one on the future to ensure as many deals as possible were done before the return to training at the end of June.

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It took until late May for Rangers to confirm what had been evident for some time as it was announced that Allan McGregor would retire and that Kent, Morelos, Scott Arfield and Filip Helander would not be retained. Their departures left voids within the squad but created opportunities for Beale to utilise the wage bill in a different manner as the Rangers hierarchy, with newly installed chief executive officer James Bisgrove at the forefront, set about securing the services of the prime targets in each position.

The weekly outlay has not increased but it has been redirected as nine players have been recruited. A number of players within the squad have clauses which increase their salaries as a result of Champions League qualification and the failure to reach the group stage means that the wage bill is in the same ballpark as it was last term.

One of the objectives of the window was to reduce the squad size and the average age of the group. Both of those targets have been achieved, although supporters were perhaps surprised that fringe players such as Jon McLaughlin or Scott Wright also didn’t move on as Alex Lowry and Ianis Hagi joined Hearts and Alaves respectively on loan.

The £5m that was recouped for Kamara represented a remarkable profit on the £50,000 that was paid to Dundee and there is scope for that to rise further should Leeds reach the Premier League and the Finnish international play a required number of matches. Rangers made their money back on Antonio Colak following his £1.7m move to Parma, while around £3m was brought in as a result of Fashion Sakala’s switch to Saudi Arabia as he signed with Al-Fayha.

Had those transfers been forecasted and presented to supporters at the start of the window, there would have been few complaints across the board. Indeed, the same could be said when it comes to the arrivals, but two defeats from four Premiership fixtures and a Champions League exit have sharpened the focus of a frustrated fanbase.

Beale knew he had to frontload his recruitment drive and do deals efficiently. Kieran Dowell, Dujon Sterling and Jack Butland were the first three to be confirmed and there is a belief that the latter two, in particular, will offer Rangers a route to potential profits further down the line. Butland has been the standout thus far, both in terms of the manner in which he has conducted himself and the way that he has performed. At 30, his best years are certainly ahead of him and there is already a belief that Rangers may have to fend off potential suitors sooner rather than later.

The final Bosman deal came a couple of weeks later. A Tweet from Rangers announced that Leon King had been diagnosed with an ankle injury that would sideline him for a "significant period of time" and Beale reacted quickly by signing Leon Balogun for the third time in his career following his departure from Queens Park Rangers. As it transpired, King’s setback was not as serious as initially thought. He was available for selection within weeks but has yet to feature for Beale’s side this season and attempts to secure a loan move to the Championship or League One proved futile in the closing days of the window.

The arrival of Balogun would prove to be the only centre-back reinforcement of the summer. That became a point of discussion and consternation as time ticked away but the main targets had been secured, and the majority of the budget accounted for, by the closing stages of the window.

Rangers would have moved to replace Ben Davies if he had departed but a loan approach from Stoke City didn’t meet the financial requirements as Alex Neil sought to be reunited with the defender following their time together at Preston North End. In any case, those close to the defender repeatedly insisted that he had no desire to leave Ibrox.

Talk of a move for Harry Souttar was rife but continuously played down by Ibrox sources. Whether the Leicester City defender was keen on the switch or not, there was little chance of it materialising some weeks after a left-sided option, understood to be Auston Trusty, became prohibitively expensive for Rangers to pursue.

Beale had prioritised his Ibrox attack. Amid a flurry of offers and observations regarding Cyriel Dessers, it was Sam Lammers that had moved to the front of the queue and his arrival in a £3.5m transfer from Atalanta was followed by Abdallah Sima’s loan from Brighton and Hove Albion as the forward line began to take shape. Lammers had previously been a target for Rangers during Steven Gerrard’s tenure as manager. He was the first player that Beale met as he put in the hours – in trains, planes and automobiles – to sit down in front of those that he wished to recruit. That personal touch was imperative for Beale. He speaks about ‘football identity’ and compiles bespoke presentations for each target to help convince them to put pen to paper.

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Their personal attributes were identified, previous teams and systems analysed and a blueprint of how they would fit into the squad and the side at Ibrox was laid out. Beale’s love for the game is evident whenever he speaks and several of his signings addressed those messages as being important factors in their decision-making process.

Some of the sales pitch was more akin to what investors or sponsors would have put in front of them as the Ibrox factor, and especially the European occasions, were highlighted in word and in video. So was the environment at Auchenhowie and players, their families and their representatives were left fully aware of what they were signing up to as a Ranger.

Once the heart has been made up, the head has to follow, and players bought into the vision and the opportunity of continental competition or future moves to more illustrious leagues. In some cases, the scope for progression at Ibrox eclipsed and outweighed the greater financial offers from elsewhere.

Jose Cifuentes, the Ecuadorian midfielder, was a case in point. His arrival on August 3 was the final incoming of the window but it had been a prolonged pursuit of a player that was not short of suitors. Rangers hosted his representatives in the Directors’ Box for the win over Celtic in May. At a time when their Old Firm rivals were also touted with an interest, it was perhaps a risk to have all parties in one place at the one time. The perseverance paid off, though. Cifuentes signed a pre-contract to ensure he would be a Rangers player by December at the latest and negotiations with Los Angeles FC were stepped up as all the paperwork was put in place and medical tests were completed Stateside.

The deal was one of the more complex agreements of the summer, mainly due to the number of stakeholders involved and Rangers had to deal with Major League Soccer and LAFC as well as Cifuentes and his agents, who were fielding calls from a range of clubs for a player that has club once rated around the $10m bracket.

Rangers paid just over £1m for Cifuentes as agent fees added another couple of hundred thousand pounds to the total bill. It was similar to the arrangement that brought Aribo to Ibrox four years ago as a middle ground that rewarded all parties was found for a player that Rangers believe will be sold on for several times what was handed over to Los Angeles.

Cifuentes was the last piece of the jigsaw. The most expensive one had already been put in place as the pursuit of Danilo ended with a deal being signed, sealed and delivered.

The Brazilian, like Lammers and Dessers, had been on Beale’s radar for some time. The move for Dessers dragged on before Cremonese accepted a bid of £4.5m and his arrival on a four-year contract represented a significant outlay for Rangers.

And when the numbers increased once again, so did the expectation from supporters as they heralded their new arrival from Feyenoord.

The spend on Danilo is around £5.5million at present but it could get to the £6million barrier. Suggestions that his contract would be worth in the region of £45,000 per week were dismissed as well wide of the mark long before the striker arrived in Glasgow and was reunited with Dessers.

To date, neither the faith of the fans nor the board’s investment has been repaid and the big money moves are the ones that will ultimately make or break Beale’s career as manager at Ibrox.

Around £15m was outlaid during the window 12 months ago and the board have once again stumped up when required to fund the recruitment drive.

As ever, it is not about what you spend but how you spend it. The black and white of the balance sheet means nothing to supporters without the glistening of silverware in the trophy cabinet and there is an acknowledgement at Ibrox that levels must be raised as a matter of urgency after the defeats to PSV and Celtic in the two biggest tests of Beale’s newly assembled squad.

Beale has made his decisions and the board have backed his calls. Now his players must hold up their end of the bargain if the fourth pillar is not to crumble at Ibrox this term.