Steven Gerrard and Rangers are up against it for the final seven matches of the season, following striker Alfredo Morelos’ four-match ban by the SFA. The hitman’s 800th red card of the season at Parkhead, in concert with his previous four, have led to a four-match ban, with a two match ban on top of the standard one for accumulation.
Which ultimately means for the next two matches v Hearts and Motherwell, as well as the opening two of the five-match split, Rangers lose Scotland’s top scorer as well as his assists.
Words fail on the cost of Morelos’ stupidity, and it’s clear now with Rangers’ horrible form (despite second half resurgence yesterday) that second place is heavily on the line.
Currently the gap to third is a decent sixth, but just one bad result potentially cuts that significantly depending on other results, and Rangers’ record this season against Hibs, Killie, Aberdeen and of course Celtic is ghastly, meaning the split could be utterly terminal for Rangers’ hopes of securing the runner’s up slot. Only Hearts have yielded good results this season for Stevie’s men and thankfully Levein’s men’s recent form has been patchy at best with just 2w in the last 7.
In short, Rangers face Hearts twice, Celtic again, Hibs, Hearts and Aberdeen. And all season Rangers have, in total, 4 wins (Aberdeen, Celtic and Hearts x2) in 14 matches in the league (Celtic x 3, Hearts x 2, Hibs x 3, Killie 3, Aberdeen 3) versus these sides.
To suggest the split could be very, very damaging for Steven Gerrard’s man is an understatement, and now to do a portion of it without 30-goal and 11-assist man Morelos is a gaping chasm.
With Kyle Lafferty and Jermain Defoe Rangers’ only options up front for the next four matches, there is one hell of a void now and we can seriously say finishing second is far, far from certain putting the £2.28M for second place at stake too.
Whether both will start as a pairing or Gerrard will stick with his one up front for the next four we couldn’t possibly guess, but with just four wins in 14 in the league v the likely top 5 opponents, our work is seriously cut out to secure Europa League football next season.
Thanks very much Alfie!