Sunday, 20 January 2019

How Rangers 'joke' is now having the last laugh...

We remember it well – backing up Andy Halliday in the face of a torrent of abuse aimed at his merits for being in the first team.

The lad, six months ago, was anything but popular – he was becoming the joke player, the villain of the piece, the weak link – and Ibrox Noise was about the only site to advise that his many detractors get off his back and leave he and Stevie to it.

Even we suggested he probably wasn’t good enough overall to command a place by his own right, but nevertheless ‘leave him alone’.

Six months later and Andy Halliday is making a very strong case for inclusion by right in the left back slot that, admittedly through ill-fortune on the part of theoretical first choice LB Borna Barisic, Halliday has made essentially his own.

The performance he put in against Celtic was pretty remarkable and it has cut him not only a lot of slack, but gained him the kind of reputation and credibility that earlier last summer he simply didn’t have – and the reality is his displays have been good enough that Rangers haven’t really missed the Croatian that much at all.

Steven Gerrard’s influence and the Croatian’s presence have pushed Halliday’s level up and from a utility player who only got selected through injury Halliday is now staking a genuine claim to be permanent left back even when Barisic is fit. Which isn’t very often.

Jon Flanagan tailed off painfully after a bright start in that berth, Gerrard isn’t interested in Lee Wallace and Barisic can’t stay fit. Leaving the door wide open for Halliday.

It’s quite the turnaround for a man who was initially gifted fans’ favour by his own allegiances and Rangers’ lowly position, but who lost that privilege when he appeared to struggle with the SPL in defensive midfield and slowly became a scapegoat.

Now he has worked like a dog, earned respect and support, made his way to left back and few have doggedly got their way into the first team like Halliday and pure hard graft – but it also helps that he can actually play a bit too.

He’s deserved this.
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