Rangers fans, and Steven Gerrard are scratching their heads trying to figure out why the second half at Ibrox on Sunday was as bad as it was.
It was bad before Alfredo Morelos came on, so his introduction wasn’t a factor. And Hibs didn’t really look any more dangerous in the second half at all, rather Rangers appeared to invite them on with home possession dramatically down.
But there was a huge change in the second half, specifically at half time, which may well have accounted for a great deal of Rangers’ loss of impetus; the loss of Ryan Kent.
We did a piece on the Oldham-born winger recently where we suggested his accolades of both Rangers and PFA YPOTY may boost his value, making him harder to sign permanently (£7M?), and while we acknowledge his inconsistency at times this season, his undeniable ability at others has been frightening.
And if anyone had any doubt as to his importance to Rangers going forward, that second half, completely polar opposite to the very decent first half, was surefire evidence to persuade them otherwise.
Kent was sick at half time, and had to be removed – Daniel Candeias took his place and Rangers completely lost their shape and control over the match – don’t underestimate Kent.
So many matches this season have used him as an outball, an outlet, a channel of relief to spread the ball to, leave it with, and watch him take pressure off everyone else with possession, dribbles, tricks and lay offs.
That was gone for 45 minutes – there was no one to take the weight of the ball and provide that balance – not in the way Kent does.
And as such Hibs had far too much of the ball, Rangers retreated and while the visitors weren’t exactly magical, they were the better team for the gulf of the second half.
Does this make Rangers a one-man team? Well, what’s the shame in that? Take Ronaldo away from Juve and they’re weaker. Take Messi away from Barca they’re weaker. Take Neymar away from PSG they’re weaker. Every team has its best and most effective player – obviously if that player is removed without adequately being replaced, the side will suffer.
And in this case, Kent’s importance to Rangers became clear. If it wasn’t already.