If last season was anything to go by, Rangers are in the market for a new left back. Andy Halliday was honourable but not a long-term solution, Jon Flanagan was inconsistent and primarily a RB, Lee Hodson was surplus and also technically a RB while Lee Wallace was frozen out.
It all left shiny new summer signing Borna Barisic as the one we all pinned our hopes on, but despite continuing to serve well for his country, the Croat international was a complete dud in Glasgow.
A fish out of water, the former Osijek man struggled to defend, rarely assisted, lacked fight, and most of the time lacked fitness.
In short, a horrendous waste of £2M.
And yet, here we are in pre-season with his well-publicised apparent ascension back to domestic form – his contribution to both the brief training spell at Auchenhowie plus what he did in Portugal, with a smile on his face we hasten to add again, suggests an unexpected possibility that rather than trying to ship this flop signing out and get a profit for him, Rangers might finally have the player they signed, albeit a season later than expected.
We just can’t get away from his international displays – a complete contrast to his Rangers ones, he looks a world class player for a world class team. Capable of defending, assisting, scoring, and supplying superb torpedo crosses, the Borna Barisic who plies his trade in the red and white of the Eastern Bloc nation is a completely different animal to the failure who struggled so badly in Govan.
Stories claim that Barisic struggled to settle, that his English wasn’t great and that he wasn’t able to get away from football enough to refresh himself. In short, the kind of stuff that gives someone poor mental health and makes them feel like an outcast. He also may have struggled with the pressure of an institution the size of Rangers, given the modest clubs he’d played for before his move to Scotland – aka he underestimated how big Rangers are.
A year later, most of these have either improved, he’s adapted, or adjusted, and now grasps the size of the club and the expectation to win every match.
And he’s now at training looking far happier and seems more in tune with what manager Steven Gerrard wants from him.
Of course, the proof will be in the pudding – he may still be absolute guff out on the pitch come the Euro qualifiers – but he’s now it seems given himself every chance of being the success at Ibrox he is capable of being, and becoming the world class player in our colours he is for his country.
What a turnaround THAT would be.