Yesterday’s trip to Methil was an entirely productive one for Rangers, with a comfortable 0-3 win secured at fairly minimal effort. A professional performance was all that was needed and the players selected delivered that.
However, events on the bench were considerably more telling about the grand scheme of things amidst the names listed but, more crucially, not used.
This blustery day in Fife may not have been primed for fancy football, but with Jamie Murphy and Borna Barisic both named on the bench, yet overlooked despite the comfortable score, it screams a lot about the prospects for both.
This was a match for the fringe players to stake a claim, that is, the ones who are still marginally part of Steven Gerrard’s plans. There was obviously no Graham Dorrans (said to be injured again) or Eros Grezda (he’s done at Ibrox), but Murphy, while relatively surplus, was not seen as completely axed, while Barisic, up till two weeks ago, was ready to be part of the team going forward.
It really has all changed.
Barisic rejected to the bench yesterday was a damning indictment of his chances of breaking through at this club – dismissed in favour of Andy Halliday and not even brought on for minutes, his presence on the bench said everything about what his standing is in the eyes of Steven Gerrard. While not completely cast out, his feeble displays back in competitive action have shown his signing to be a waste of time, and a waste of money, and he’s just not suited to the team or the league. Maybe Gerrard will give it another go, but yesterday was his chance to do so and he declined the opportunity.
Meanwhile Jamie Murphy will have been absolutely devastated not have gotten any time as a sub. Even Jake Hastie was preferred to him, Hastie having had a very slow start to life at Ibrox.
And Gerrard’s selection of he and Brandon Barker as replacements ahead of Murphy told the 29-year old everything he needed to know about who was priority and who isn’t.
Gerrard was willing to give Hastie a little spot of time to prove himself (in fairness he did his case no harm) ahead of Murphy – and on top of the sale of Daniel Candeias some weeks ago there’s an undeniable feeling that bar some exceptional cases (Tavernier, Jack and Morelos) priority is going to Gerrard’s own recruits.
And frankly we don’t entirely blame him for that.
But it does cast a huge shadow over Jamie Murphy’s chances of ever being relevant in the Gerrard era, and we can’t help feeling he’s better off away on loan or being outright sold.
As for Barisic, well, it just hasn’t worked, and if he couldn’t get a start in a League Cup match, or even a sub cameo, we think that says it all.
Our manager is a ruthless man, but it’s evidently working.