THE mission has been different for Mark Allen in each of his four transfer windows at Ibrox but the overall ambition remains the same.

If Rangers are to regain the Premiership title, lift domestic silverware and compete in Europe on a regular basis, they need a higher calibre of player. And it is Allen’s job to find them and sign them.

His remit as Director of Football is more wide-ranging than just scouting and recruitment, but that is the area that is most important to Rangers and the one that is easiest for supporters to judge him on.

Allen’s role is more rounded, more comprehensive, as he oversees everything from the refurbishments at Ibrox to the canteen at the Hummel Training Centre.

But all of that work, most of which is in the background and outwith the public view, means little if boss Steven Gerrard doesn’t put a winning team on the park.

Rangers are closer to achieving that than they were when Allen was appointed in June 2017, but the Light Blues are now approaching a potentially defining summer.

If they sign well and start positively next season, there will be a momentum behind Gerrard’s side and Allen will be viewed favourably amongst a discerning support.

But neither Rangers nor their Director of Football can afford costly failures in the transfer market.

By the time Allen arrived at Ibrox, most of the business had been done by Pedro Caixinha. Unfortunately, the damage had been done, too.

So that was Allen’s first task in January as Rangers signed a handful of players to get them through to the end of the campaign.

The jury is still out on Greg Docherty, while Jamie Murphy has been a real loss this term. As for the likes of Sean Goss, Russell Martin and Jason Cummings, the less said the better from Rangers’ perspective.

When Gerrard arrived and the clear-out commenced in the summer, the task at Ibrox was to build a squad capable of challenging for domestic silverware and reaching the Europa League groups.

Allen had more input into some deals than others but every one was completed on his watch.

The move for Allan McGregor was a no-brainer and Scott Arfield has been a success, so has Connor Goldson, the most expensive buy so far at more than £3million.

Others haven’t convinced, though, and the likes of Borna Barisic and Eros Grezda haven’t justified their outlays, while Umar Sadiq was an unmitigated disaster of a signing.

Once again, January was a chance to rectify matters but Jermain Defoe and Steven Davis haven’t really had the impact expected and Matt Polster has had none. Glen Kamara looks a bargain at £50,000, however.

Having had as many misses as hits this season, Rangers now need to increase their strike rate ahead of Gerrard’s second term.

Whatever funds are made available, and are topped up with player departures, must be spent wisely by Allen and Gerrard.

The size of the budget is important, of course, but it is more about how it is used. While Gerrard doesn’t expect as large an overhaul, Rangers undoubtedly need quality reinforcements right across the park, particularly in attacking positions to help break down stubborn sides and avoid the kind of results that have undone their Premiership title challenge in recent months.

The model of buying low and selling high is one that Celtic have used effectively for some time but only James Tavernier and Alfredo Morelos - signed by Mark Warburton and Caixinha respectively - have that profile at Ibrox right now.

Deals for Kamara and Jordan Jones and interest in the likes of Greg Stewart show that Rangers are still trying to strengthen the squad.

But it is match winners, title winners, that are required. As Gerrard put it, Rangers need the icing on the cake.

It was Gerrard’s influence that allowed Rangers to sign Ryan Kent last summer and Defoe in January and the 38-year-old will once again have a leading role to play in the recruitment drive this summer.

But supporters will naturally look to Allen and his scouting team - which is headed by Andy Scoulding - should the required calibre of players not arrive at Ibrox.

Results on the park will determine Rangers’ ambitions and Gerrard’s fate. Off it, Allen needs results too.