Saturday, 28 July 2018

The enigma of Ryan Jack

If one Rangers midfielder has divided supporters right down the middle since his arrival, it is Ryan Jack.

Brought in on a huge fanfare in 2017, this former Aberdeen captain had been high stock in the Scottish game, and Rangers being in for him in the first place was massive news in the SPL, before the protracted saga finally concluded with a Bosman that summer.

Naturally Jack became public enemy number one as opposed to all the Aberdeen players who frequently move to Celtic, but that’s another story for another day.

And there is no denying his first season at Ibrox was completely derailed by injury – a truly horrific assault by Motherwell’s Cedric Kipre completely emptied him and the 26-year-old holding midfielder found himself on the treatment table for the rest of the campaign.

However, when assessing the overall contribution the Scotland cap has made, we have to look at what we expected.

Ryan Jack, a strong, defensive midfielder and a leader, was expected to arrive at Ibrox in high stock, and take Rangers’ midfield to another level along with his own game.

Many great players arrived from Pittodrie at Ibrox and raised their game to a new height – older Bears will remember the great Davie Robertson as a prime example, and indeed, many SPL clubs have seen this happen – Steven Naismith and Kevin Thomson both excelled for Rangers from Kilmarnock and Hibs respectively in more recent times.

However, it would not be accurate to say Ryan Jack has been similar.

A great number of fans rate the midfielder, praising his simplicity, his work rate, his ability to break up play, and his backtracking, as good traits he brings to the side.

However, this is not shared by all. Many consider he lacks concentration, is loose with passing over medium and longer ranges, and that he has failed to really impress himself on the midfield as much as we expected a player of his standing in the Scottish game to do.

It is quite telling that Jordan Rossiter, many years his junior, drew more praise for his cameo at Easter Road last season than we can ever remember Jack getting in any match.

This is not to attack Jack – we promised a clean slate for all the players under Steven Gerrard and we have stayed as honest to that as possible.

But the reality about Jack is he is yet to truly step up and become the player we thought we were getting. He has been little better this fledgling season than he was last, which, we hasten to add, was by no means a weak link in the team nor a disgrace to the shirt – just a little underwhelming compared with what we feel he is supposed to be.

He has obviously come back from a bad injury, and may still not be fully ‘up to speed’ yet, but we look forward to the day we can praise him unconditionally rather than noting the slight weaknesses in his game which punctuate most of his performances.

Over to you Ryan!

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