It would be safe to say the last young creative American midfielder to enjoy a loan spell at Ibrox has found his career rather falling away since he departed these shores back to London. Indeed, Gedion Zelalem’s subsequent passage through the game has ended up with the German-born anchor being ferried out to a country whose national game has faded akin to Italy’s Serie A; the Netherlands.
To add insult to injury, the Arsenal playmaker’s new club is not even in Holland’s top flight, but rather the Eerste Divisie, or second division.
Rangers’ latest American loan recruit from the youth ranks of England’s top flight was not greeted with a huge amount of fervour or excitement, with most fans being relatively in the dark on what Dean Court’s Emerson Hyndman could bring to Mark Warburton’s side, other than the knowledge he was a deep-lying playmaker and arguably not a position Rangers needed much new blood in.
A couple of weeks later, three impressive displays under his belt including today’s domination at Fir Park and it finally looks like Warbs has nailed it with a signing for the first time in too long.
Sure, Rangers had a poor first half, and the team’s fortunes were hardly assisted by the early loss of the slightly unlucky (but rightfully dismissed) Michael O’Halloran, but once Warbs’ men got to half time clean sheet intact, the second half was probably the best fare they have produced since that excellent show against Cathro’s Hearts. And it was all inspired by the creativity of Hyndman in the heart of midfield.
The stark difference between Hyndman and his predecessor Zelalem is speed – he is quicker on the ball, sharper in the mind, and sees the right pass much earlier – as well as the uncanny ability to execute acute passages of play and reverse balls. He has the kind of vision and endeavour Rangers have been absolutely craving for a very long time, the kind Niko Kranjcar could deliver but worryingly inconsistently and without resilience.
Instead Rangers now have a fully fit playmaker who has the best of both Zelalem and Kranjcar but stronger, quicker, fitter and with the priceless ability to make assists and score goals.
Warburton has got much wrong this season, and this site has been only too quick to point out what, but in Hyndman he has unearthed a real gem going by the trio of performances we have seen so far from the Bournemouth man. He was the only standout in Germany (other than McKay), he did decently last week in the first of the McGhee double header, and today at the Steelmen’s patch he dominated entirely from the middle.
Tougher tests than Motherwell will come for Hyndman, but in two competitive matches for Rangers (and one friendly) he has done more this season than Jason Holt has since August and Zelalem did in his entire spell north of the border.
It is of course early days – we raved about Josh Windass once upon a time too and the ex-Stanley man has faded quite dramatically from Rangers’ microscope, but in Hyndman Rangers not only have a senior American international, but at age 20 he possesses English Championship and English League Cup experience and so far his displays suggest he is more than just a flash in the pan.
Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth are in a strong position in the Barclay’s Premier League, with a very respectable 12th to boast of – it was pretty clear Hyndman would find chances limited and while Rangers have better teams to face than Motherwell, if the young American can continue this form against the spectrum of sides in the SPL, Rangers will be all the better for it.