Rangers’ Jewel of the Middle – Lewis MacLeod

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After the nightmare plunder of
Rangers FC in summer 2012, where all manner of vultures swooped to snap up
various players who felt it in their best interests to sever ties with Rangers
rather than honouring their contractual obligations and transferring them to
the newco, there was a completely new complexion about Rangers’ team.
Gone were the vast majority of
the high-earners, and now, in this new age, a significant reliance on the
club’s youth products. Many featured prominently last season, given this new
and unique opportunity, but two stood out vastly among their peers.
One of the two I have focused on
in a previous blog, that being the very, very promising and surprisingly mature
Barrie McKay. The other is incredibly easy to name having been sorely missed
when he was unfortunately injured at the end of January. He has now returned
with a vengeance and is tearing up the club’s pre-season – this player is of
course Lewis MacLeod.
While his team mate McKay has
caused havoc on the Ibrox wings, MacLeod is an entirely different kettle of fish.
Aged only 19, having just turned that last month, MacLeod has been the talk of
the fanbase this preseason. Not content with picking up where he left off last
season by dominating the middle, this incredibly mature central midfielder has
been weighing in with plenty of goals too. 3 times the quietly-spoken playmaker
has netted already, giving genuine credence to pretentions he has of bagging 10
or more on league business this season.
Interviewed during this preseason
he said about his scoring exploits:
            “Yes, it was brilliant to get 2 goals.
That’s one thing I’ve got to look to add to my game and I’d be delighted to get
10 or 15 goals this season.” 

Lewis hopes to do this many times next season

On the formation in the Brora
match MacLeod added:

            “I liked the formation we had in the
second half with the sitter and the three midfielders going forward which gives
you a wee bit more freedom to get up the pitch and join in the play and if we
played that formation I don’t see any reason I couldn’t get that amount of goals.”
Incredibly mature and says it
like he sees it. Whether fans want to see that 1-3 formation Lewis alludes to in
the middle or the more ‘traditional’ 4-4-2 type of setup it is clear the classy
CM will be as productive in the final third of the park as he is in the engine
room.
A cultivated midfielder, MacLeod
is winning universal plaudits for his understated demeanour while producing
incisive play on the Govan pitch. His vision for a pass is a major strength in his
game, and he appears to read the game extremely well which endows his artillery
with a keen sense of position. He brings others into the game with ease, and is
comfortable on the ball; a vital trait in such a stressful area of the pitch.
Lewis MacLeod, like his
predecessor Barry Ferguson, seems to have time on the ball that he should not,
giving him that extra yard to make the right football decision. He rarely gets
it wrong.
Add goals to this burgeoning
young player’s game and he really has the makings of a fantastic player for
Rangers. Will he become captain in time like aforementioned Ferguson? It is quite feasible indeed, and he
seems to already possess the quiet dignity required to be a captain of this
football institution.
But it is best not to put
pressure on him of such magnitude – the most recent ‘next big captain’ of a
similar position to MacLeod (if totally lacking the majority of the ability
Lewis has), Kevin Thomson, did not quite live up to that premature expectation
and has ended up back at Hibernian again. So the ‘captain’ issue is distinctly
taboo at this delicate stage of MacLeod’s football life.
What is not taboo, however, is to
get excited over the quality he can bring alongside the likes of DM Arnold
Peralta, ‘hard working’ AM Nicky Law and others.
MacLeod has proven his ability
and his class and it is not unreasonable that he should be one of the first
names on the team sheet next season.
Just something else for Rangers
supporters to be happy about.