On top of Borna Barisic’s early substitution is the reasons why. Steven Gerrard has gone on record as blaming the ref as being card happy and that he ‘didn’t trust’ the officials not to book Barisic again.
And yet, the truth appears some distance from this.
Yesterday, there were three yellow cards. Three. One for Barisic, one for Thill of Niederkorn, and one for Arfield. Barisic’s was on 10 minutes, and yes, it wasn’t the best piece of justice on the part of referee Stoyanov, but Gerrard’s excuse for removing the sub-standard Barisic appears to have been just that. An excuse, and perhaps protection for the vulnerable Croat who may still be deeply struggling with this shirt.
The fact is he was the only booking in that first half, with no more into well into the second half. It’s not like Stoyanov was card-happy.
The opposite in fact. Yes, the card for Barisic was a little unfair, but his manager’s claim he was distrusting of the officials just doesn’t add up. By half time that had remained the only booking, and in truth most of the fouls were given by the ref – one or two perhaps slipped him by, but he was not overly harsh or mistaken with many decisions after that one.
No, Steven Gerrard was either protecting Barisic from himself, from a legitimate second yellow, or he was absolutely losing patience with the 26-year old.
We know he struggled with that last season, losing patience with him following a tonne of injury issues – but this was possibly his losing patience with his performance.
Now, we should say, we are not accusing our manager of ‘lying’ – we are, however, stating in his position he cannot always be completely 100% honest about his intentions. If Steven Gerrard cannot conceal his true intentions, he is completely naked and exposed, and sometimes it’s essential to be able to not show your true hand. That is totally acceptable and we are never intending this as a smear job on him.
But we dearly hope Barisic’s half time removal isn’t the death knell on his Rangers career. Because the Barisic who does it for Croatia really is quite an asset.
Pity he struggles to fit into the Rangers shirt.