Borna Barisic’s place on the bench last night was not exactly surprising, given his continuingly disappointing form, but it’s become clear now Borna Barisic is a symbol of the new methodology of Steven Gerrard, and how ruthless it is becoming.
And ultimately, how productive.
Barisic, pre-season, was hyped as finally delivering on his promise, but the moment he stepped into the shirt in a competitive environment it was evident he was the same old Borna Barisic from last season.
He did OK v St Joseph’s, poorly v Progres (and got removed) before getting another chance on the opening day v Killie.
He once again failed to deliver and has not been seen since, other than the bench.
And this is Steven Gerrard’s lesson to all players – if you don’t perform, you don’t keep the jersey.
Last season, he promised this methodology but didn’t really deliver on it consistently – this season we are seeing players having bad games and more often now than not, being cycled to the bench.
It’s not an exact science, and it’s not 100% consistent (this is football, not mathematics), but it is evident and it’s there.
When Barisic struggled at Rugby Park, and ended up benched thereafter, it was Gerrard’s message to the whole squad – you don’t deliver in this shirt, and you’re gone, whoever you are.
Now, we should say, it’s not permanent, and if players who replace you themselves don’t deliver, you have a chance to get back in, but it’s a good tactic to keep players on their toes.
Look how Alfredo Morelos is benefitting from not being a guaranteed starter any more. He’s starting to look the £25M striker he is capable of being again.
At left back, while Flanagan’s performance v the Danes wasn’t the best, his displays prior had been solid, and he will get other chances to show his qualities.
Previously it seemed like rotation for rotation’s sake – now it’s starting to look like tactical rotation, and Gerrard’s admission that Filip Helander can’t get in right now because of Katic’s form is some idea how it’s working.
If you perform, you keep the shirt. If you don’t, you’re at real risk of losing it.
And it’s seeing more and more 8/10 (and higher) displays than ever before.
Steven Gerrard is becoming a very, very clever manager indeed.