THE list of names in Ross Wilson’s desk drawer had to be reached for sooner than he would have expected or hoped. One of them will now become the next manager of Rangers.

It is just 12 months since the sporting director sat in the Blue Room at Ibrox alongside Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Stewart Robertson. Today, Wilson and Robertson have been tasked with overseeing the process that will identify and recruit the Dutchman’s successor.

Herald and Times Sport revealed on Wednesday night that their work has almost been completed. Michael Beale was identified as the prime candidate this week and is now on the brink of a return to Ibrox as Rangers seek to finalise arrangements with QPR.

The adage about being prepared to fail if you fail to prepare springs to mind when any moves are made these days. This moment, for a variety of reasons, was always going to arrive at some point and the coming days will be indicative of the forward planning and due diligence systems that Rangers have in place.

None of those that were seated at the top table last November would have foreseen that Rangers would be back in the market for another boss at this stage. Like the situation that developed when Steven Gerrard departed for Aston Villa, it is proof that you should expect the unexpected in football, and especially at a club like Rangers.

Wilson spoke back then about the methodology and ideology that is designed to give Rangers an eye on the future as well as the present. Once again, it is being put to the test.

"We want to be a modern, forward-thinking football club,” Wilson said on the day that Van Bronckhorst was appointed at Ibrox. “We’ve got to prepared. I’m not just talking about the Rangers manager’s position here, we’ve got to be prepared in a number of positions.

"We’ve got to know where talented people are, who might join us on our journey in the future. For sure, being prepared is important and allows us to move quickly and decisively.

"As much as we wanted to move quickly and decisively, we certainly weren’t going to move recklessly and we certainly weren’t going to appoint someone without going through a proper rigorous process. I think that also gives the candidates and the future Rangers manager huge confidence that this is a proper, serious club.”

The Van Bronckhorst era was certainly short. At times it was sweet, but it soured towards the end and his sacking this week came as a surprise to few supporters.

The man himself – aware of the damage done as the deficit to Celtic opened to nine points in recent weeks - had faith that he could turn it around. He could point to the credit he had in the bank from the run to the Europa League final and the Scottish Cup win and also to the havoc caused by a such a wretched run of injuries that denied him so many key players when they were needed most.

Questions over Rangers’ recruitment strategy over the last handful of windows are valid and Van Bronckhorst may feel that he was dealt a hand that he couldn’t win with. Ultimately, his fate was shaped by performances and results and decided by the Ibrox board.

The reasons behind the failings of Van Bronckhorst can be assessed but that doesn’t make the decision to go for him in the first place the wrong one. Wilson was at the forefront of the process this time last year and there were few dissenting voices when Van Bronckhorst returned to Ibrox boasting managerial successes with Feyenoord and seemingly ticking the right boxes, although his knowledge of the club ‘wasn’t a pre-requisite for the job’ on that occasion, according to Wilson.

The situation that Wilson finds himself in today is very different, though. Supporters have expressed concerns over the business done and the squad that has been assembled and Wilson is, rightly or wrongly, seen as one of the key contributors to an issue that sparks considerable debate.

The stakes are high for the former Southampton director of football operations but they are even higher for Rangers. A failure for Wilson would be a blow that he may not recover from, while a wrong choice at this juncture would set the club back years on and off the park.

The next man to have his name etched into Rangers’ history will be the seventh permanent boss in as many years at Ibrox. The process this time around is similar to the one which resulted in Van Bronckhorst’s appointment and the mixed fortunes over the seasons show how difficult, or perhaps even thankless, the task can be.

When Stuart McCall answered the call of duty in the aftermath of regime change, it was a case of Rangers needing to act swiftly and find a candidate with a personality and nous to accept the job with no guarantees beyond the end of the campaign. A recommendation from Walter Smith was all that was needed and McCall’s service, although ultimately unsuccessful, cannot be forgotten.

Next time around, it was Mark Warburton that landed the job. The search on that occasion was steered by John Gilligan and Paul Murray and there was a profile and a plan that was adhered to as the Englishman arrived at Ibrox alongside David Weir.

The one which resulted in Pedro Caixinha remains unfathomable. Just how the unknown Portuguese made it all the way to the top of the Marble Staircase is a mystery that can never be justified.

When it ended as quickly and badly as was predicted from the outset, it was clear a monumental error of judgement had been made. It is thankfully one that Rangers have at least learned from and such a left-field move will not transpire this time around.

Graeme Murty was in the right place at the right time after Derek McInnes knocked Rangers back and it wasn’t until Gerrard was appointed that Rangers finally did business properly once again. The move was the brainchild of Dave King and once the foundations were laid, Mark Allen helped get the deal over the line as the Liverpool legend took his first steps into management.

That way of working has not been followed since and the process is the same now as it was last time around as the board await a recommendation for final approval. Wilson was mainly tasked with the search that resulted in Van Bronckhorst’s arrival and the sporting director must now prove his eye for a boss while supporters critique his judgement of players.

There are no guarantees with any appointment or signing. The strike rate at Ibrox has not been good enough in both regards since regime change, however, and that is why there is as much riding on this deal as Rangers aim to install their next boss in the coming days.

Succession planning cannot just be a soundbite or cliché. There must be actions to substantiate the words and a discerning support will judge those who choose Van Bronckhorst’s replacement and form their opinions on the credibility and credentials of the decision makers.

In sporting and business senses, Rangers have to get this one right. For some in the boardroom and the corridors of power, a second failure will carry its own consequences.