Is the best player in the SPL at Ibrox?


Last night’s thumping win over Aberdeen was easily Rangers’ finest 90 minutes since promotion. There was so much good to pore over, with excellent performances throughout the team and a work ethic criminally inconsistent until the starting XI took the field at Ibrox yesterday.

However, for yours truly, one player stood out head and shoulders above the rest. For all the plaudits rightly given to Bruno Alves, Declan John, James Tavernier, Jason Holt and Ross McCrorie to name just five, another selection showed just how good he is but how staggeringly frustrating he is too.

I am talking, of course, about the bizarre enigma that is Carlos Pena.

Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos claimed some months ago the Mexican is the best player he has played with:

“So far, here, Carlos Pena.”

Whether this meant so far in his career, or so far at Ibrox is less clear, but it is nevertheless lavish praise and even Graeme Murty has furnished the 27 year ex-Leon man with superlatives about performances in training.

But what an inconsistent guy he is. Far too often at Ibrox he has looked lazy, slow, disinterested, isolated, and generally a complete fish out of water.

But when you take the performance in Perth and the first half display last night before he ran out of juice, there is absolutely no doubt he is the best technical player Rangers have, and the most gifted too – maybe even in the SPL, period.

The lad does things and sees things others simply cannot and do not. At one point he flicked the ball effortlessly around three Aberdeen players before backheeling to an onrunning team mate – unfortunately for him Miller had mistimed his run and the ball went straight out of play.

Pena is a truly puzzling one – when he is not in the mood, like at Hampden v Motherwell, he cuts a lone figure, a lost soul and someone who looks like he would rather be at home watching TV.

But when he shows up and gets more involved, he is one of the best technical players in the SPL. He could be quicker, and his first touch is often a shambles, but he has evidently struggled with the claustrophobia of the SPL and finds the pace tricky to deal with.

Carlos Pena is clearly used to having more time on the ball than he gets here.

But even when he gets none, he can make impressive things happen – on 20 minutes he looked off balance and went for a outstep of his right boot shot from around 20 yards and forced Joe Lewis into a very smart save. It was subtle, and it was a minor event, but he made something very difficult look so easy, and this is the talent the guy has.

This is the kind of display that makes him undroppable, but then he shows up and seems to disappear from an entire match and one wants to strangle him.

Is Carlos Pena Rangers’ best player? Technically, by a mile. Does he work hard enough? Not often enough.

But last night he influenced much more of the match than he frequently has and therein lies the rub of the issue.

Do we persist with him and hope he produces more like last night? Or give up and accept it is just too infrequent for the outlay?


  1. Last night he looked like he was really enjoying himself (they all did), hopefully this feeling will stay with him and give him the drive to produce this standard on a consistent basis. we will find out on Sunday, however as expectations will be very high on him to perform on Sunday i would maybe drop him???
    I think the key to Carlos will be knowing when and when not to play him.

  2. For two million plus we need a player who cans play for more than 45 minutes and who will consistently influence games. Given that he (very) occasionally displays his talent – it is even more frustrating and inexcusable that he does so, so rarely. Let's not get down in the sand and dance over this guy just yet.

  3. Murty said it was all about enabling our players best abilities in a system that works for the team. Last night it worked.
    Match fitness must still be an issue for Pena and Herrera who hasn't had a run of games to prove his worth.
    A huge part of the game is a players belief and confidence in himself and team mates.
    Last night it was there in abundance, the challenge for a manager is to keep that going in every game.

  4. Thought he was class last night, his through ball for Tav, leading to a save highlights what we have been missing. He's one of the few players we have capable of playing a defence-splitting pass in a packed space. I thought Windass had a great game last night too, more than a couple of great crosses, constantly beating his man and a great assist for Tav. Ryan Jack was pure class, find it hard to remember him misplacing a pass and his nutmeg on Christie was a big highlight. I think we have a strong squad, it felt that their cohesion, balance and tactics made them look worse than they were. More of the same on Sunday please.

  5. He looked good but that is all for now,when it is done week in week out then we can start talking,let us not get to far ahead of our self think about it we been here before.

  6. For goodness sake, this is what is wrong with us… We are not good enough, last night was great. I left Ibrox on a high having seen a great display…but… We are about to believe all this guff again… Not good enough… Get rid and bring in players who will work hard in EVERY game…

  7. 😂😂 are you guys for real? The guys a joke figure. He's a Filip Sebo who doesn't try. He's chipped in with a few goals but apart from that he's contributed nothing apart from gifting possession to the opposition.

  8. My thoughts entirely I though Carlos looked the part last night he could be a Pirlo for us. Constant running isn't everything in football, i doubt if the Italian playmaker ever needed to wash after a game ever.

  9. One half decent 45 mins and he's the best player in the SPFL? Last week you wanted him sent back to Mexico or wherever. Get a grip. Is he technically any better than Kranjcar even? maybe we should give them 45 mins each and just accept we only get 2 other subs?

  10. Pena should start every game, until, if and when he doesn't perform, then and only then should he be dropped. We cant afford to leave talent like that out, and he can be counted on to put a good few goals away too. Keep him in and keep the formation from last night as I think thats why he thrived against the sheep.

  11. He’s hard work that’s true… That said I think his touch in front of goal is second to none.. I’d play him with Alfredo or big Eduardo upfront as he ghosts into the box 5 out of 10 that’s not a bad return… Super Ally wasn’t the most active of players either at one time but he knew when and where to be in the box… I think he’s still settling in too so be patient and don’t hound him it’s all about confidence with him I think.

  12. I think we keep him, he has impressed at points in almost every game he has played. The Partick thistle game doesn't get mentioned much but the header he scored from the corner was shear quality, he knew exactly what he was doing. We have 11 men on the park but in every team u have players who can't defend but can attack, we need to play him in a free role where tracking back isn't needed, almost a striker. Jack, dorrans, holt and mccorie can do the defensive leg work keeping pena's mind free to do what he does best, score goals and link up play. I like him

    • Aye to be fair Martin you’ve a soft spot for him be honest lol… I think he’s work in progress ( no pun intended ☺️ ) a long with the rest of the team.. I think Pena has an eye for goal that’s for sure and will settle in eventually… Give him a full season and see what he does next season..

  13. Mexicans are used to playing football in 100 degrees and have much much more time on the ball, our football 100 mph and 4 degrees.
    Everything's alien to him and family in Scotland.
    The boy has definitely got something special in his locker.
    Hope himself and his family settles in to life in Glasgow and he gets up to speed with our game, The new manager hopefully turns him in2 a gem.
    All the best Carlos just keep hitting the onion bag ⚽️🔐⚽️🔐⚽️🔐

  14. Tommy,Pirlo?Keep shooting up mate. I can’t believe the clowns on the board. Pena wouldn’t get a game with East Fife and we are now saying the man is class. 🤣🤣🤣

  15. Carlos Pena did very well on Wednesday but his consistency has lacked,i think he should start on Sunday but we should have others ready to replace him and that to me could be as early as half-time…the WHOLE team played exceptionally on Wednesday but Sundays game will show our TRUE class…..

  16. Always maintained if he gets a chance to show what he can do when he's settled… yes, he looks out of his gourd at times, but his movement is phenomenal. Not a thing appreciated much in the Scottish game, but he is a ghost.

  17. He Needs to Start Performing like that Week In Week Out!
    This Lazy Half-Assed Performances arent good enough

    Don't Get Me Wrong, I Like Pena & Herrera and I Want them to do well but poor performances don't help them or the team.

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