While Rangers fans have been undeniably disappointed by Eros Grezda’s start to life at Ibrox, assistant manager Gary McAllister has shed light on what may, surprisingly, be the real reason the Albanian winger is struggling to cope with his new career in Scotland.
While it is true that the ex-Osijek attacker is still recovering from injury sustained in May, and this may certainly be affecting his performances to a significant degree, G-Mac hinted at a further, deeper and even more worrying issue for a footballer to be suffering from in the modern era: stagefright.
“When he played at Osijek, the thing that stands out when you watch them play there, there was nobody there! Nobody watching. All of a sudden he’s coming to a place where there’s 55,000. It’s different.”
What McAllister is suggesting is Grezda is mentally struggling to cope with the demands of playing in front of thousands of people rather than the modest at best crowds he was used to in Croatia, and this is a surreal weakness for a footballer to have.
Usually the identikit model for players is to thrive on the big crowds – the more people watching, the bigger the buzz, and the bigger the performance. Grezda’s entire career has been in the Eastern Bloc, be it Croatia or Slovenia, and these aren’t exactly regarded as hotbeds for massive crowds and arenas.
Here he now is at Ibrox and if McAllister is to be fully understood, he is crumbling under the weight of expectation.
Gerrard’s number one did also mention that the lad looks more confident around Auchenhowie and plays in training with a greater ‘swagger’ than he did, but there’s quite a difference having confidence at the Hummel Training Centre to having it in front of 50,000+ fans at Ibrox.
If this truly is why Grezda is struggling, he needs a sports psychologist and quickly.