Can Rangers get the best out of this star player?


There is no denying Niko Kranjcar’s class. He has shown it time and time again in his career. His vision, accuracy, intelligence and all round flair have been exceptional assets to him and the teams he has plied his trade with.

Following Sunday’s performance at County though, questions are being legitimately being asked of him and his role, and just how we can get the best out of him.

From the beginning his fitness has certainly been a concern – not just his resistance to injury but his actual match fitness before being dead on his feet. Getting a full 90 minutes out of him has become something of an elusive objective, the Croat only managing to last the full duration for two matches since he arrived – neither being a league encounter.

But there is little doubt when he is on his game he is the kind of magic Rangers need – he can unlock many defences with a killer pass or two, and aside him Pedro Caixinha really does not have another player he can call upon to read the game in the way Niko can.

Following his disappointing display in the north of Scotland, some fans reacted with displeasure, questioning his fitness, mobility and commitment. And it certainly was not Kranjcar’s most illustrious hour, but who else do Rangers have right now who can see that little gap in the defence or create a little bit of magic?

Kranjcar might not have produced consistently since he arrived but it is always in his locker – even though they were friendlies, Niko was able to rake out some radar passes over 50 yards in the fixtures against the likes of Marseille. We know now that those team performances were not worthy of judgement, but whoever the opposition is and whatever the circumstances of the match are, an accurate 50 yard pass to a running receiver is an accurate 50 yard pass.

But we have seen since the league action began in earnest that Kranjcar has struggled to find the space or time to produce that level frequently against the best Scotland has to offer.

His display v Niederkorn was undeniably impressive – a competitive match in which he ran the show for half an hour. That kind of lock picking (his assist for Miller’s striker was pinpoint and quick thinking) is a real plus when he is in the zone.

But Rangers’ system is probably not suiting him. Caixinha did admit that Kranjcar’s role is to be on the wing and cut in to play more centrally, but if there is one thing Niko struggles at, it is mobility. He is not physically quick and he cannot cover 20 yards at the drop of a hat – hence for him to thrive requires willing runners around him to drag defenders away and create space and time for him to do the damage.

As it is now, Kranjcar gets mostly suffocated out of matches, which makes him look lazy, uninspired and unable to make a difference.

If someone like Niko just wanted a payday, and wanted to be a mercenary, he could have remained in a cushy USA gig with the Cosmos or got some high-salary slot in the Middle East to round off his career.

That he picked the hustle and bustle of Scottish football with a pressured role at Ibrox with probably a reasonably modest salary suggests this guy’s commitment is unlikely to be in question.

It is just whether Rangers can get the best out of him. We hope we can.


  1. Rangers and the player would both be better off if he found another club. Can't see him or Miller getting much game time. Pena impressed simply getting in to the box time and again. I think he could come good. Herrera might just do it for us. With Walker on the left it could make a big difference to the performance of all players in the team.

  2. I've just seen the dates for the Ibrox sleepovers , which is an amazing idea to raise money for the homeless in Scotland , also read our huge sponsors 32 red where going to kick-start the charity by putting in £10 ??? , We obviously aren't getting a good deal out of them going by their derisory offer to charity but us as fans should push them to pay a decent amount , they are a multi million a year betting company .

  3. He has all the talent in the world as he had a great career. Sadly I don't think he is anywhere his prime anymore. He looks incredibly slow when he is on the ball or defending which makes him miss most tackles and even lose possesion at times. Given his injury last year, his deteriorating physical condition, speed and fitness, and that he surely must be amongst the best earners at Ibrox, I think he is a massive disappointment and possible one of the worst free agent signings we made in the last decade. Still rooting for him to improve fitness and all, but at his present condition I think he is not somebody we can afford – a passanger for 85min who might have 1-3 moments of brilliance – that's not good enough. Would prepare to see Pena, Rossiter, Holt or some youth players get a chance instead of him at the moment

  4. Sorry to say he is nowhere near the player he once was.
    U can see it he's still got it in his head unfortunately the body doesn't!
    Also agree Alex he would be better of to another leauge. Ours is a 100 MPH that also doesn't suit him in any way.
    Birmingham are interested in him and that would be a good move for him, more time on the ball.
    If he does go hope it all goes great for him, He's a Gentelman.

  5. Good article. I don't doubt the guys ability, but he was such a liability on Sunday and lost the ball cheaply that led to their goal, albeit Tav and Cardoso were shocking in marking the goal scorer.
    Kranchar wants all the time in the world on the ball, but he just can't have it. Opposition know they need to shut him down immediately to prevent him making the pass, therefore he needs to make his own space, but he just didn't work hard enough for it last week. We need grafters in midfield. I hope Sundays game was a bad day at the office, cause this guy can play on his day, but we need more days out of him in the season.

  6. 5 or 10 mins here or there is nowhere near enough & we.d be better using his wage on some1 like walker.

  7. I have said that Nico will leave and I still think that is the case ..He is unfit He is slow but no doubts he can play ..unfortunately he's past his best

  8. He doesn't fit a 4-4-2 as he doesn't have the workrate, fitness or speed. In this system you need all 4 midfielders covering a lot of ground as we are often outnumbered and Niko doesn't fit.

    I watched him a lot when he was at QPR and felt back then he was unfit, overweight and disinterested. QPR ended up using him as an impact player who came off the bench for 25 mins and often conjured up something magical. Maybe this is how we should use him?

    I'm struggling to see where Pena fits in 4-4-2 either as Candeias and hopefully Walker/Windass play wide with Dorrans and Jack the middle two. El Buffalo and Miller/Herrera are your front two so where does Pena or Krancjar fit?

    Personally I'd prefer we went 3-4-1-2 playing Pena in the advanced midfield role, or 4-1-4-1 with Jack sitting behind Windass, Dorrans, Pena and Candeias.

  9. If the way ahead for The Gers is to depend on players like Niko to raise our performance bar going forward then we are in serious trouble, the guy WAS a class act but is NOW past his best by a country mile,

    No offence or disrespect intended to the guy, he WAS obviously talented and got around 300 caps after all, but truth is he is spent and has no place in the extremely physical and competitive Scottish game

    You have to win your fair share of the battles before you can have a chance to win the war and with old legs like that in the team its simply not going to happen


    • 300 caps ffs? That must be a world record lol.

      I think like everyone else he has still got that wee bit of magic in him but he is just not fit enough anymore and never will be. Move just hasnt worked out for both parties. If Ped can find a magic wand to make fit again or a time machine then fantastic if not then offload him and use his wages on someone else.

      On another note, anyone any ideas on who we could sign before deadline? I was would a full back that can cover both sides of the pitch a left mid/winger and a striker will be neded. What my fellow bears think?

  10. This player has all the moves of a 12 year old schoolboy… because of his overweight size, he gets away with it occasionally…. He is absolutely USELESS to our cause…. Why doesn't Warburton come back for him…. We all know why…. Offload this elephant along with Miller….

  11. Currently, Gers can't afford to carry any passengers as we don't have an abundance of quality in the team.Niko should only be used as a late sub if at all.Defence is still a worry, both full backs are vulnerable and Cardoso will need to quickly adapt to the rough and tumble. Heneghan from 'Well along with Walker, Moult and some full back cover – maybe on loan, would do us a power of good. We've unburdened the wage bill recently and need more players in as we still look a bit short.

  12. Yes was a class player ten years he was playing in the USA second tier when we signed him that should have told everyone all they needed to know but just as they also welcomed ad saviours players from the bargain basement of english football you get what you pay for

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