Steven Gerrard was linked with Liverpool’s rising star Harry Wilson all summer long, but after the winger was reported to have outright rejected Rangers’ overtures and elected instead for Frank Lampard’s Derby, Gerrard had to turn elsewhere.
It was plain Rangers needed a few wingers, but good ones don’t come cheap, and promising young ones rarely want to come to Scotland on loan – Patrick Roberts ‘over there’ is a good exception to the rule, but Harry Wilson’s rejection of Rangers (and indeed Celtic) gives some idea of the esteem Scottish football is frequently held in down south.
So Rangers had less time left to find someone, and when the Ryan Kent name came up, much googling was done and few were impressed by the latest player linked.
An underwhelming time in Barnsley was pointed at, ditto his struggles in Germany with Freiburg, and while his team mate had set the Championship alight with Hull, Kent wasn’t having the same time of it.
And for the first month of his time at Ibrox, we can honestly say he wasn’t clicking terribly well with the team or the tactics. While the lad had pace, his decision making was pretty horrendous and his dribbling was rarely productive. His lack of connection with his team mates was a real problem – not so much that he was self-centred and playing for himself, but that he wasn’t understanding where his team mates were, what they were doing, or when and how to link with them.
In short, he seemed the wrong player in the wrong team and we sensed there was much room for improvement.
While he hasn’t quite hit the heights of Arjen Robben yet, he has certainly improved and earned his RTV MOTM v Dundee.
It began at Parkhead – when too many around him were hiding, he was making the runs, beating his man, and looking one of the few players in a blue shirt that day who was trying to honour the colours. His work rate was good, he got back and defended, and provided that aforementioned threat up front. He actually had the number of both fullbacks.
And he’s continued that on nicely against Dundee – another good display, finally getting off the scoring mark to see his endeavour pay off at long last, Ryan Kent is starting to justify his starting place in the XI.
There is a nagging feeling of course that Glenn Middleton is close to pushing him, that the young Norwich graduate would be as good if not better a prospect than his English colleague.
But that’s the kind of competition we want – to see two high quality improving players fight it out for the wing berth.
Right now Kent has the shirt and he’s just about justifying it too. It’s hard to get too excited about him – he hasn’t been that good yet. But he’s much better now than he was a few weeks ago.
Just watch out for Glenn, Ryan!