“Now, you’re thinking ‘why do you need a Pirlo type player anyway, what’s wrong with Ryan Jack?’. Well, nothing, Jack is a magnificent defensive midfielder who’s also adding goals and some occasional attacking to his game too. But a visionary passer and playmaker he isn’t, and the diamond midfield is a critically attacking formation.”
Sunday 3rd February 2019 – Ibrox Noise.
If yesterday’s performance at Hamilton (ok, they’re hardly Real Madrid) is anything to go by, Ryan Jack has made us look very silly indeed – more and more in the past month the formerly acute holding midfielder has advanced into a more centrally advanced midfield slot, and yesterday the ex-Aberdeen captain produced his most versatile display yet.
Showing a keen eye, appetite to get forward plus ability to defend both high up and deeper, Jack appears to, at the ripe old age of nearly 27 (happy birthday on Wednesday old boy) be continuing to develop as a player, adding visionary passing, assists and indeed goals to his game.
It was Glen Kamara left doing the grunt work yesterday deeper in front of defence, as the Finnish international continues to get used to his new team and mates – and Jack, normally the gritty harasser himself who instead marauded upfield and showed a previously unseen flair for vision and support play outside the box.
His goal was a thing of beauty, a deft instep curler all about direction and not about pace, and this subtlety seems to be becoming part of his game now, instead of just the hard midfield pressing and defending.
Steven Gerrard has had a number of positive effects since he arrived in Govan, and Alfredo Morelos’ development into a potentially world-class striker has been much discussed over the past few months – but spare a thought for the remarkable transition into the complete midfielder he’s managed to furnish upon Ryan Jack.
It’s the old cliché – there’s no one better than ‘xxx’ manager to get the best out of ‘xxx’ player – for example, it just didn’t happen with Jordan Rossiter (yet) despite it being apparently written into the stars that his idol would get the best of him in a Rangers shirt.
But it clearly has with Jack – and the midfield titan has benefited more than most from Steven Gerrard as his manager.
The transformation from very good player with potential into the current powerhouse he’s become is a thing of wonder.