Of the past four fixtures, friendlies or otherwise, two performances have been the polar opposite of two others.
While many point to the formation of the ill-suiting diamond 4-4-2, including ourselves, something else was missing against HJK and Killie that was present against Celtic and Livingston:
We have to admit this lad, one we previously dismissed as below the level of the likes of Jack, Coulibaly, Arfield and even Rossiter, has grown to become completely indispensable and is a must-pick every match given the way he has developed.
The finest product of Auchenhowie for many a year, the holding grafting defensive midfielder has become a crucial part of Rangers’ most potent and strongest midfield – his energy, grit and determination coupled with an increasingly mature reading of the game have come at the right time, and suggested major intent on his manager’s part to play him far more frequently than before.
Of course it wasn’t all plain sailing – McCrorie struggled in the 4-1-4-1 Gerrard started out with – the anchor was unable to play solo in front of the defence, isolated from the midfielders in front of him – thankfully Stevie ditched this system and brought the 4-3-3 in which helped McCrorie on the few occasions he did feature – having two peers around him aided his game and let him focus on destructive midfield and reading the game, rather than feeling like the whole weight was his alone.
And now the pairing of he and Ryan Jack is as good if not better than the Sean Goss/Greg Docherty duo which served us so well in spring of last year, and it’s seen the very best of McCrorie as the youngster blooms under Rangers’ current setup.
It’s nice to be proven wrong about a player when you don’t rate him – McCrorie has become what we didn’t expect, a truly impressive midfielder who deserves his place. Is he Rangers standard? We’d say he’s certainly going that way, and while he’s a very different player to Barry Ferguson who became a club icon, he only has to look at that example of what can be achieved if you’re made of the right stuff.
And McCrorie very much looks like he is.