In one of the more curious quotes from Steven Gerrard since he became manager, the Rangers boss has announced the reason he dropped Nikola Katic from the first team is that he predicted the Croat would lose form.
We’ve been puzzled by the whole story from the word go, and we must say we’ve heard a lot in football but this one is rather new to us. And frankly it makes very little sense.
The quote says:
“Niko came in and was excellent in the beginning. As we expected of a young boy learning his way, he was going to have that little dip in form, I always knew as a manager that I was going to have to pull him out at a certain point and protect him. He’ll come back stronger and improve and he’ll come back and help us again.”
Taken in isolation this does actually seem fairly legitimate, that he would envisage a 22-year old burning out and felt the need to protect his development.
However, taken with the greater picture we have to call it for the nonsensical logic it sounds given the same treatment has not been given to 22-year old Alfredo Morelos, 21-year old Ovie Ejaria (before he left), 22-year old Lassana Coulibaly or 21-year old Joe Worrall.
That said, different players do develop differently, and perhaps Gerrard really feels Katic is a unique case – he knows him better than we do, of course, so we kowtow to his judgement as long as defence is benefiting from this.
Thing is though, recently it hasn’t been. Here’s hoping for a clean sheet tonight.