Following the clamour last season around Auchenhowie graduate Ross McCrorie, his bit-part role this season has come of something of a change.
A number of fans have significantly high hopes for the youth player, and while we’ve been scathing around these parts of Graeme Murty, one thing the ex-boss did do right was shift McCrorie forward into midfield following the clearly tangible struggles he had at the back.
But his performance under Steven Gerrard’s initial 4-1-4-1 were that of a lost lamb – he had no help, no support, and as the sitting midfielder was tasked with reading the game around him much better than his development allows him to at the moment.
In short, while Gerrard was right to say it had been irresponsible of previous bosses to put him in defence, he made a similar error himself isolating the holding anchor in front of the defence with no real support.
It is no coincidence his better displays under the Anfield legend have been as part of a three-man midfield, with support from peers like Jack and Arfield.
However, the truth is he’s really not been a part of the Gerrard era as a whole, spending most of his time on the bench and fading ever more from the first team picture.
Of course, there’s a disclaimer – not only is he young and not fully ‘developed’ yet, but the competition for his position is the most fierce at the club – Ryan Jack, Lassana Coulibaly, Jordan Rossiter, and Andy Halliday to name just four are all vying for that slot or two, with Jack and Coulibaly likely to be the current frontrunners for selection, while Rossiter seeks fitness.
And there is also that small sinking feeling that McCrorie simply isn’t as good (yet) as any of Rossiter, Jack or Coulibaly regardless so is unlikely to be selected ahead of them outwith rotation.
But therein lies that keyword – ‘rotation’. Rangers have a tonne of fixtures coming up over the autumn – with UEL matches aplenty and domestic competition to deal with too, and Rossiter for one isn’t even included in the European squad where McCrorie is, so there is certainly scope for the Scot to be used as the squad stretches itself over a busy campaign.
And it is a squad game of course, not just XI players.
So McCrorie may still have a big role to play this season. But if the start so far is anything to go by, McCrorie may find his opportunities very limited regardless.