As we alluded to earlier with the Joe Worrall entry, we’re still not 100% happy a player from another team is being selected in general over the one our manager paid good money for. Nikola Katic really must feel utterly rejected by Steven Gerrard, given the reasons he’s been dropped.
But the wider picture of his exit from first-team affairs at Ibrox is only part of the puzzle – the manager spent £6M (over half) of Rangers’ summer budget on players from the Croatian league who have given us a combined total of 51 appearances of a possible 114 (give or take based on when Grezda & Barisic) signed), and we have to say it’s not really looking like money well spent yet.
Katic impressed us but for whatever reason Gerrard dropped him and he no longer plays. It had appeared a wise £2M but we’re not sure what’s happened there.
Meanwhile Borna Barisic has shown fleeting glimpses of his delivery (which is a torpedo, frankly) and general quality but cannot maintain fitness long enough to establish himself. He appeared a brilliant use of £2M especially given how well he impressed against us with that famous bandage in Croatia, but as time has gone on, not so much.
And Eros Grezda started to come onto something of a game, having a great time against Motherwell, but when he does start, he seems to get used by his team mates the least amount and just cannot seem to get a starting place half as much as we’d expect. The £20M claim about him does look absurd at this point.
Which leaves us rather wondering what it was all about. Gerrard signed Katic and he became a mainstay – the boss then raided Croatia again twice but here we are in January and none of that £6M seems especially well spent. Even if we account for Barisic’s unfortunate injury problems, it still leaves £4M – Katic has been basically dumped, and Grezda was signed amidst injury problems in the first place – and when fit doesn’t seem to be doing enough to impress his manager anyway.
Indeed, as a side issue, the most effective summer signings Gerrard made were most of the frees. Arfield, McGregor, hopefully McAuley and the loan of Kent.
The significant money spent just hasn’t worked out – Lafferty has struggled, Murphy got badly injured, and only Connor Goldson (of all the fees paid) has looked fairly decent for the sum spent on him – and even he is not universally praised by all fans.
This isn’t meant to be a piece slaughtering Gerrard or his signings – because the Old Firm win dramatically changed things and hopefully it continues onto tomorrow’s return to domestic action v Cowdenbeath.
But our spending has to get wiser – when barely £3M of over £10M seems to be well-spent at this point, it’s not good value.
And it’s not really that shocking that January’s additions have all been at no cost at all.