He was an ‘untouchable’ under Ally McCoist, then equally so under Kenny McDowall followed by Stuart McCall, but former Motherwell midfielder Nicky Law has found himself thoroughly down the pecking order this season with Mark Warburton at the helm.
He was once again benched yesterday for the visit of Falkirk, despite his positive impact in Greenock last week, and despite the absence for this one of Rangers’ only major playmaker Gedion Zelalem, away on international duty with his country.
It would be no mistake to say finding himself a sub with Dean Shiels selected ahead of him to start would have been devastating for the former Bradford man, given it left Rangers’ midfield lacking any sort of creativity or major attacking threat.
Ironically many fans are probably celebrating his lack of starts; he would be the first (and has been) to admit his performances over the first two seasons of his time at Ibrox have not been up to scratch, with far too many ‘passenger’ performances and invisible man routines.
However, while no Messi, he has nevertheless improved his contribution this season when used, working harder, finding team mates better, and a generally all-round upgraded attitude – and when he came on yesterday on 72 minutes his introduction was noticeable in the increased incision Rangers enjoyed – indeed, he was heavily involved in the third goal and took pressure off the defence not long after arriving when he drew a useful foul in Rangers’ half.
While this site has historically castigated Law, and justifiably so, for his weak displays until this season, there has been a noticeable improvement in his game and attitude lately – clearly hurt by losing his place, as he should be, it could be that he has looked inwardly and realised what he needs to do to become a first-team regular again.
And on the pitch, he does appear to be putting that into practise. There is of course the slight dilemma of which player he can rotate with – Halliday and Zelalem are stick-ons when fit – so the last place is a fight between Shiels, Law and Holt – the latter being by far the most in-favour, and again, justifiably so.
It is a decent conundrum for Mark Warburton to have – strength in depth in midfield, if not so much in defensive midfield. And maybe it is time to give Law a few more starts now and then. As Warbs has said, there is no point training all week only to not get a sniff of the first team – everyone has to be involved.
Maybe Law has earned more than a sniff now.