With Steven Gerrard’s maiden season in management now complete, there are no more excuses about rookie inexperience. While it’s just 12 months, it’s still a lot Gerrard has picked up and Rangers fans’ expectations next season are more concrete than the mere hopes we had last time around.
But one thing Stevie must get right in the interim is the summer transfer window. With Jake Hastie and Jordan Jones already secured, more will arrive, but it’s time to give a blow-by-blow assessment of last summer and winter and analyse the successes, failures, and overall judgement of how SG did, signings-wise, in his first season.
This is a big one so hang onto your hats…
Let’s start at the beginning:
The first signing of the Stevie era, McGregor, bizarre indiscipline aside, has been stellar. A wonderful goalkeeper and still one of the best in the UK, Scotland are a far weaker NT for his retirement. But, the caveat is this was not a Gerrard signing, but merely an approved one. So, it’s hard to fully credit Stevie with the success of this capture. 9
Became more critically important as the season wore on, and Ibrox Noise makes no apology for being right behind this guy from the word go and waxing lyrical throughout, even in the face of some criticism. Arfield’s performances from December onwards justified our stance and the Canada international, overall, is probably our best and most important player. But, again, he was not a Stevie man – brought in before Gerrard was finalised, it was simply Stevie’s approval again. But still, superb signing anyway. 10
This probably was more of a Gerrard signing, we think, and it sure took a while to go through, but Goldson, after a silky smooth start where he looked on the level with a Carlos Cuellar in his pomp, struggled at Rugby Park then Motherwell, and truly, while rarely horrible (he still was, once or twice), never really convinced thereafter. He’s not terribly physical, has dire ball distribution, doesn’t dominate in the air enough, and rarely tackles. He also cost £3M and we can’t say he’s really seemed worth that. He’s far from awful but he’s just not got it, for us. 6
No one really knew him, but when he joined he described how he loved the physical battles in football and the aerial ones especially – and once he’d turned out for us we could see why. A real unit of a boy, he still finds himself learning the game and makes inexperienced errors, but his heart is massive and he puts himself in the pain for his team. He isn’t the most technical, but for pure physical brute force defending he’s really solid. 8
Such a divisive boy, he nicked Katic’s place as soon as he joined and became quite unpopular for that. Prone to gaffes and lapses in judgement, but his critical last-ditch defending and blocks were numerous. Statistically Worrall was considerably superior to Katic, but he lacked the heart except in the big matches. Anyway, he wasn’t even our player, but in truth he did ok for the most part. But few fans would ever want to see him back anyway. 6
Started out good at LB, very good, but faded quite badly following a few error-strewn matches, and lost his place to a combination of Andy Halliday and Borna Barisic. He took until the split to actually recover from this, but played very well indeed on his return. Except when for Killie, Stevie put him back to RB and he was a fish out of water again. Overall, he did mostly well enough, even if he was on the periphery most of the season. 7
After his performances against us for Osijek we even advocated this signing on the site, but weren’t we all just so horribly wrong? Despite being a Croat international and seemingly having an incredible left foot, Barisic had the heart of a mouse and the physical strength of a house of cards. Couldn’t beat a man in attack, couldn’t defend much, and managed only 3 SPL assists in 14 attempts. Just a truly feeble signing and a bad use of £2M. 2
A bargain, in truth, Kamara is a player still learning the game in a very important position, but the 23-year old Fin has a tonne of potential and plenty of confidence. He has a lovely touch, superb composure, and quick thinking. He isn’t the most physical, or the quickest in pace, but he uses what he does have rather well. He does need to cut out the lapses in concentration – the boy can be far, far too laid back and it’s cost Rangers goals already this season. But still, good signing overall and had a brilliant Old Firm. 8
Terrible horrific start for the NI man, as he struggled with fitness and the speed of the game. But the switch of position to the deep lying playmaker worked wonders for him and he looked a different player in the split. Took him a while to get to where he needed to be, but he’s ended up a fantastic signing. 9
Isn’t the most dynamic striker, and lacks a lot of attributes prolific 9’s have, but he makes up for it by being the most gifted natural finisher at Ibrox, and probably in Scotland. His conversation rate is excellent, and while he isn’t going to win much in the air or make many big dribbles, he will score score score. He does have a strange tendency to make some brain burp decisions, such as inexplicably punching goalkeepers or weirdly kicking folk, but hey, a little needle never hurt anyone (much). 8
This is a strange one. Kent had an awful start to life at Ibrox – he wasn’t in the zone and took a long long time to get up to speed, but his performance against Celtic made him. No, not that one – the one we lost at Parkhead last year. He was the only Rangers player to show up, and it showed he had the stomach for a fight. His display at Ibrox though, following the amazing displays v Hearts and Rapid was just astonishing. But he did show inconsistency, and wildly. He could often be staggering, but equally ineffective. But the split did show his importance and Rangers missed him hugely for his suspension. He’s gone now, but overall the good outweighed the not so great. 8
Didn’t want to be here, and it showed. The most reluctant player Rangers have had since Stephane Guivarc’h (look him up kids) Ejaria just didn’t enjoy being at Ibrox and looked miserable the whole time. Had good composure on the ball, and physical strength, but not much else, and Stevie had a weird blind spot to him, consistently choosing him. He just didn’t offer anything. 4
One good performance v 10-man Motherwell aside, this was a hopeless waste of £2M and a truly bad, bad signing. Misguided capture on false pretences, it just shouldn’t have happened. 0
Yes, did you forget we signed this guy? Spent half a year at Ibrox and did absolutely nothing. Has to be called out as a total failure so far. 0
He’s a good squad player, and adds balance while delivering composed dribbles, but that injury at Killie ruined him and we fear time has passed him by now. Hard to rate him but given value for money (at around £600K we believe) it’s got to be unfortunately low. But we’ll say N/A for a rating here.
After that bright start he faded so horribly, and that’s all we have to say on him. 3
Goodness me. What a genuinely diabolical signing this ended up as. We’d argue this is up there with Jeffers, Ostenstad and Bernard. 0
No clue why Stevie didn’t fancy this guy after working so hard to get him, but he didn’t – weird, because he made Connor Goldson look a player. And by that we mean he raised his partner’s game and led well. Rangers looked pretty solid with McAuley at the back, but he just didn’t feature at all after a certain point, injury notwithstanding. 5
Solid enough start but faded quick, Lafferty was a waste of £700K although he’ll argue he didn’t get enough chances. True, he probably didn’t, but then Jermain Defoe didn’t for long enough either and the second he got one he took it. Best Kyle could do was a goal at Cowdenbeath. Just not good enough and he appears on his way out. 3
So… a whole bunch of players, around £10M+ spent, a lot of loans and a lot of frees.
The money spent, mostly, was completely wasted. Only Katic and Kamara appear to have been value for the outlay. Goldson, Barisic, Grezda, Lafferty and Murphy, for whatever reasons, were just not good investments for the return gained. On the money spent we’d have to give Stevie 2/10
Heavy use of this market was made, and four of them ‘worked out’ in that they played ok to well for us. Only Davis really worked out as a signing and he was always going to stay anyway. Defoe could too given the unique status of his loan contract. Worrall was alright, Kent was sporadically incredible, and the rest were garbage. 5/10
This is where some of the best stuff happened. Arfield and McGregor were stand out signings, sadly Gareth McAuley wasn’t really allowed to join them while Polster has been a waste of time. But Jon Flanagan overall was useful indeed. 7/10
Gerrard did poorly with the budget he had, in terms of what he spent it on, but he was a bit better when it came to loans and frees. He will want to spend money a lot more wisely this summer, while making better use of the loan market too. Overall he can be happy enough with his hit rate, but there’s plenty room for improvement.