All the hype going into yesterday’s season-ender was about Rangers achieving the split clean sheet, and being the first Rangers side to do it in the 18 years since its inception. Naturally this didn’t happen as a hapless visiting side meekly capitulated against Steve Clarke’s Killie, again.
Ibrox Noise takes you through the things we think Steven Gerrard (and ourselves) learned from the final match of the campaign:
1: He learned more in this loss than he did in the previous six wins put together. Steven Gerrard immediately learned that his fringe players and certain personnel slot adjustments were way below what he needs from his back up men – it only justified further his early acquisitions of Jordan Jones, Jake Hastie and Greg Stewart for quality squad depth, because the current deputies coming in just ain’t cutting it.
2: Glen Kamara needs to grow up a bit. He is only young, and he is still learning, but as much as he’s shown a measure of quality beyond the fee paid and appears to be a bargain, his lackadaisical attitude and losses of concentration have led to at least two goals conceded. If his name was Joe Worrall he’d never hear the end of it. He has this summer to hopefully tighten up the focus and allow the strengths in his game to grow further.
3: Alfredo Morelos appears to be a destabilising influence on this team now. True, a glut of first team regulars were missing, which didn’t help, but there was something very off about the performance which we attribute more to Morelos being back than their collectively being unavailable (with a caveat or two). No surprise given how many times the Colombian has told us all he wants to leave. That can’t exactly be the most ingratiating thing for his team mates to hear.
4: Jon Flanagan appears to have completely forgotten how to play his natural RB position. Whether being deployed as LB this season has removed his awareness on the other side only he knows, but for some inexplicable reason the one-time England cap is completely atrocious on what’s supposed to be his proper slot. He’s been great at LB since his recall.
5: James Tavernier might not be everyone’s favourite player, but God do Rangers miss his width when he’s not available. Gone were all the dynamic runs, the support, and despite their inconsistencies, the crosses. Instead Flanagan was flat-footed and appeared clueless with when to make runs and when to defend. The latter is of course a huge issue with Tavernier too, but his assists and goals are one hell of a compensation. They were a massive absence yesterday.
6: Scott Arfield’s absence was probably the most telling of all – he leads the whole team through the middle and his workrate, captaincy and quality on the ball is conspicuous by its loss when he’s not around. It’s amazing how badly Rangers play without him. Add Morelos into the equation and it really was not ideal.
7: Rangers’ defence continues to look so flimsy, and in this one a hard-working team who know how to counter absolutely tore it to pieces. It’s zero wonder Rangers are being linked with defender after defender now, after an initially slow period of speculated names with that position. Whether Max Lowe and George Edmundson are the answer is down to Steven Gerrard and his judgement, but one thing is for sure – Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic aren’t enough. And yes, we’re entirely aware Worrall was the CB yesterday – but nevertheless Rangers need an upgrade in here badly.
There was more, and ultimately this game didn’t cost too much – but Steven Gerrard has a wealth of data from it to use this summer going forward. Here’s hoping he uses it wisely.