Thursday, 28 February 2019

"You don't sign Defoe not to play him"

Regular readers will remember we postulated this concept vividly when the signing of the ex-England international was announced – after all, given the hype, his reputation and everything else attached it appeared to be a fair point.

Well, if the past five or so matches are anything to go by, yes, you do. Sort of.

It seems Jermain Defoe has been signed for depth, for quality options, and to cover Alfredo Morelos’ various absences. Occasionally he’ll partner him too, as he did for his effective cameo last night, but we can, it seems, observe that Jermain Defoe is not a starter and seems quite happy to play a healthy bit-part role.

The fact is Defoe has goals in him – he hadn’t put one away since the first half of this year, but at Rangers he’s scored 3 in 5, which is honestly as much as anyone could have asked from a 36-year old striker.

He won’t hold the ball up much, he won’t win much in the air and he probably won’t earn a lot of fouls – but what he will do, when called upon, is put the ball in the net and link up better than expected with Morelos.

Defoe left Bournemouth in search of first team football, and while he’s certainly a bench player more often than not at Ibrox, Steven Gerrard is managing Defoe well – giving him a heavy and healthy involvement but not shoehorning him into a role he can’t deliver.

Yes, he was the man up top recently during Morelos’ suspension, but while results were mixed for him in that role, he’s definitely contributing. And the balance of keeping him happy while not giving him a starting jersey every match seems to be perfect.

We were uncertain of his role, of how Gerrard would fit him in – he seemed an almost unnecessary signing in a way, and even a couple of weeks ago we were puzzled as to his purpose or reason for signing.

It appears a lot more clear now, and Stevie has managed him rather well.

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