If one big talking point came out of yesterday’s Old Firm loss, it was the impossible miss by Alfredo Morelos.
Fresh off his new deal, the glaring mistake could not have come at a worse time for the striker, with all that hype of the Chinese millions and his own previous comments about wanting to move to England.
In short, the lad had added pressure on his shoulders. While we have never universally taken to him here on Ibrox Noise, and we have certainly pointed out his weak points, we have also respected his goals and the good side of his game.
Unfortunately, following yesterday’s calamity, many fans are only seeing the bad side.
The miss was utterly inexcusable and this time fans are not blaming a comical ‘bobble’ like they did against Ayr. That’s two open goal misses Morelos has been guilty of, one of which he just about got away with, the other he never will.
You will always be judged at Rangers and Celtic with how you perform against the Old Firm rival. Kris Boyd might have rattled them in for fun at Ibrox, but he only ever scored once against Celtic, once the league had already been decided and there was literally no pressure on the match. Hence his legacy will always be remembered not for being an incredible scorer, but for never doing so meaningfully against Celtic.
In three Old Firm matches Morelos has blown massive chances. And to miss an open goal (again) sums up an increasing mental block on his part against a team of the quality of Celtic.
His all round play otherwise was typical Morelos – holding up play, using his body well, and coming deeper to support. It was nothing stupendous but his work rate was evident.
Alas, that is all forgotten when you miss a 90 minute open goal that would have at least stopped Celtic extending their lead back to 9 points.
Where does Morelos go from here? When we say ‘Van Vossen’ all fans remember is ‘that’ miss at Parkhead. It is literally in the dictionary next to his name. Unfortunately even if Morelos goes on to become the best striker in Rangers’ history (Peter didn’t exactly set the heather alight), the miss will punctuate him. Do it against Celtic, it becomes indelibly marked.
The worrying aspect for Morelos is he was only a metre out and still missed. As embarrassing as Pedro’s miss was, he still had a bit of ground to cover.
To answer where Morelos goes from here – well, he has not become a bad striker overnight, but Graeme Murty did take a gamble not playing on-fire Jason Cummings, a hat trick hero as clinical as any striker we can remember at Ibrox, and deploying Morelos instead.
It is far too unfair to say ‘drop him’ about Scotland’s top-scoring striker, but Morelos now has a cloud over him, right or wrong, and Cummings has been chomping at the bit since January to get a start. It is worth remembering the ex-Hibs lad has still not made a single start in the league since joining.
It is a tough decision, and we far from want Morelos hung drawn and quartered like some fans do, but in the interests of fairness, Cummings deserves to play a bigger role now.
He has earned it.