There is no question Steven Gerrard and Mark Allen’s work in this transfer window so far has seen Rangers better off to the tune of five fine players. Sure, two of them won’t arrive before summer (albeit there has been talk of Rangers paying Dundee now for Glen Kamara’s immediate services) but nevertheless Rangers are now one Jermain Defoe, Steven Davis and (possibly) Ryan Hardie better off than we were a week ago.
This does, however, create an immediate and (sort of) wanted problem.
Rangers’ XI (and subs) overran Celtic only 11 days ago and for the first time in over half a decade looked like a proper Rangers team playing the way it should against our old rivals.
But Steven Davis and Jermain Defoe did not sign for a place on the bench.
These two will both expect, form notwithstanding, to be in the starting XI more or less as regulars – you just don’t sign players of this calibre to leave them on the bench.
So the question is, how are both of these EPL-standard players going to be integrated and who makes way?
If we take the Old Firm match in isolation, our weakest performing starter was Alfredo Morelos, maybe followed by Connor Goldson – and both of these two still had very decent displays.
But, unless sold, Alfredo Morelos is the star of the team and one of the first names on the sheet.
So where does Defoe, for one, fit in?
The most obviously vulnerable attacker has to be Daniel Candeias – his form the past two months has been up and down – and while he worked very hard and still had a very good game against Celtic, the recent ineffectiveness of his crossing and general attacking was slightly exposed, and his performance excelled due to that graft and pressing instead.
On the other hand, Ryan Kent was sensational and surely will be considered untouchable for the time being.
In midfield we have a genuine problem. All of Ryan Jack, Scott Arfield and Ross McCrorie are starting to build up heads of steam as borderline undroppable. But Steven Davis is there now, and if we’ve signed him, we’re going to play him.
Even a switch in formation doesn’t solve this. Steven Gerrard will have some excellent and in-form players unhappy on the bench, and constant rotation to keep everyone happy is not the most efficient way moving forward.
If we look at midfield and attack, to shoehorn in Davis and Defoe, not to mention Hardie, something has to give – and we must say the quality of choice really has skyrocketed:
Jack, McCrorie, Arfield, Davis, Rossiter, Coulibaly, Dorrans, Kent, Candeias, Grezda, Middleton, Lafferty, Morelos, Hardie and Defoe. 15 players for six positions. Doesn’t fit.
It is about as strong a midfield and attack selection as any since 2011.
And Steven Gerrard is the man tasked with keeping everyone happy for the rest of the season.
Good luck with that one!