The warning signs were there from the moment Rangers signed Jermain Defoe – as all fans pointed out, you don’t sign Defoe to not play him.
And in doing so, Steven Gerrard has seriously risked breaking what didn’t need fixing. By forcing the two up front Rangers looked sterile, disjointed, and the manager forced at least three players out of their natural positions to facilitate it.
Davis was puzzlingly on the left of midfield, when he’s right-sided – the NI international has played extremely well on his return two matches, but we can’t fathom why he’s being played as a pseudo left winger-cum defensive midfielder.
Meanwhile the diamond four in the middle sees Ryan Kent bewildered as a ‘trequartista’ (as the Italians say) at the apex, where he’s unable to do any damage at all, and Scott Arfield isolated on the right and less effective upon either midfield.
Furthermore, the diamond usually sees a playmaker deep lying in the holding role – a position invented by ex-AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti to accommodate Andrea Pirlo. That worked out, but Ryan Jack sadly doesn’t quite have the same invention as part of his game.
It means the previous 4-3-3 then 4-2-3-1, which suited the available players better, have both been scrapped for a formation which doesn’t fit the personnel. All to shoehorn in Defoe.
We know Gerrard was eager for Morelos to take less weight on his shoulders, but going by Defoe and he’s ‘partnership’, that may not be the ideal solution to do so.
Of course, it’s early days in the duo – an understanding can take a while to form – but if we’re truly honest Alfredo doesn’t really scream of a striker who likes working with a foil. Naturally, Gerrard knows him far better than us, but in all the time Morelos has been at Ibrox, he’s never thrived in a pair – Jason Cummings, Kyle Lafferty at al have all tried, but it’s never really worked for the Colombian.
Either way, Gerrard has, as things currently stand, rather altered something which had real potential given time – a formation which appeared to fit the players we had and which, following a mixed December, peaked with a huge win against our friends from the East.
Since then HJK (result aside) and Kilmarnock have felt like steps back the way, at best.