It’s been, oohhhh, 5 minutes since we last delivered you a piece on Croat left back Borna Barisic, so after today’s utterly curious outing from the former Osijek man we felt it was time to revisit him.
The reason we address this guy so much is the clear potential he has. His ability, evidently, is capable of being world class, and that’s the Barisic who turns out for his country.
You do not accumulate the caps he has for one of the top 7 nations in FIFA’s rankings and the world cup finalists if you don’t have something about you, and he has impressed in their colours time and time again.
But then he’s arrived back in Glasgow and looked a pale shadow of that player.
And today’s performance really did sum up everything about Borna Barisic that Rangers fans have seen.
But it wasn’t entirely his fault, and Ibrox Noise will explain why.
We told you he was likely to start this one, with Steven Gerrard surely wanting him to prove himself against fairly staple SPL opposition like St Mirren. Could he cut it against standard SPL opponents?
The answer, sadly was no, but not just for his own part.
While Barisic’s communication on the pitch was certainly lacking as always, and he was mostly passive as usual, he did nevertheless make a few attacking runs, but no one appeared interested in picking him out.
All of Rangers’ most potent threats were on the right, and through Tavernier – his runs were regularly sought, while Barisic’s less regular ones were mostly ignored.
The problem Barisic seems to have is his team mates don’t appear to entirely trust him – whenever he is available on the left, the likes of Jack or Kamara opt to go forward or wide right – very rarely does it go to the Croat.
And a major reason for this is he mostly returns it then jogs towards defence – or, more crucially, he fails to make runs forward – so on the rare occasions he does, his team mates aren’t really looking for him.
It’s a far cry from last season, in which he already didn’t have the best time, but was clearly getting more advanced because we spoke regularly about the ‘torpedo’ left peg he had. Some of his crossing was glorious.
There has simply been none of that this season – he has made a fair few appearances, 8 in total including friendlies, but overall we believe he’s managed literally 2 notable crosses in that entire time – which obviously is massively down on last season, and that was Barisic’s major ace up his sleeve.
His goal today? Miraculous. World class. It showed just how good Barisic’s left peg is again, because frankly it’s been so long since we saw it that we needed reminding.
And it genuinely was wonderful to see passion from him after he scored, and at full time for the fans at home. We want our Rangers players to want to win.
But until Barisic starts to impress himself on both matches and his team mates, his impact on matches, aside worldies, of course, will be negligible.
That said, there is a responsibility on the likes of Jack, Kamara and Davis to trust the Croat more. He has to do more on the ball, and they need to believe he will.
Tavernier, for example, on the other side, is dynamically hustling and bustling and always trying to make things happen – and he creates space for himself to pull wide away from defenders and swing a cross in for the attackers – or he gets in an early ball for unsuspecting defenders to be caught out by.
On the other side Barisic isn’t doing any of these – yes, he’s a different type of fullback, but then a contradiction to that is Gerrard explained pre-match that Flanagan had been dropped in preference of Barisic because of the Croat’s attacking tendencies.
And who was the last man back in defence for a lot of Rangers’ set plays? Not Goldson. Not Helander. But Barisic.
We want this guy to work out at Ibrox – he’s potentially an extraordinary player for us – but he needs to believe in himself more, produce harder work, and his team mates need to trust him more.
If he can get on the ball more, get in more crosses and link up more with the central players (there was a tiny glimpse again of his chemistry with Jones after his anticipation of the NI winger’s run in the second half), then it can work out.
But that’s a lot of ‘if’ and a hell of a lot of ‘more’.