There has been a nagging feeling among some supporters that while Rangers have a greater level of depth in the squad following Steven Gerrard’s summer rebuild, the deputies don’t quite match up to the first choice players in some cases.
For example, while Andy Halliday has mostly delivered (sure, we disagreed with you guys on his passing merits but he did make some key errors in the middle of the park) as defensive deputy midfielder, few would have him as first choice over a fully fit Ryan Jack or Jordan Rossiter.
Meanwhile, while Daniel Candeias had a wonderful season last campaign, he hasn’t quite hit those heights this season and has flirted in and out of the XI and for the first time isn’t a guaranteed starter.
Last but not least Jon Flanagan – banned from yesterday’s match, the one-time England cap was a mainstay until Borna Barisic arrived, and may now be on the bench more often than not.
The point is Rangers’ deputies while still decent maybe don’t quite match the first choices, and in many cases weaken the side when the first choice isn’t around.
However, with the reintroduction of Graham Dorrans and the continuing emergence of young Glenn Middleton, Rangers are starting to add high quality players who have every right to contest for a first team place, and in both of those instances, they may even enhance what is already there.
Dorrans’ cameo was quite brilliant, and Rangers fans are still talking about that world class dribble and pass which destroyed the yellow defence, and if Arfield had been a little more canny, would have been an assist for the winning goal.
Meanwhile Middleton decimated the full back repeatedly, and opened the backline up several times, playing a huge role in Kyle Lafferty’s equaliser, and staking a very serious claim that he is not only an able deputy for Ryan Kent, but probably a better player.
It all makes for a slightly unexpected boost for Rangers, to see two ‘new’ players that are as good if not better than what is already there, and gives Steven Gerrard the selection dilemmas he wants to have.
To have a multiple options of a high standard in several positions is the sort of depth Rangers deserve to have. And Dorrans’ return has given an unexpected bonus in midfield that adds a new dimension too.
Having real strength is not just XI best players, but 15+. Having at least four or five players on the bench every inch as strong as those who started, if not more so.
And Rangers do seem to be getting there now.