Following without doubt Borna Barisic’s two best displays as a Rangers player, it looks like, well over a year on from his much-hyped move from Osijek to Govan that the player we’d all given up on is finally, at long, long LONG last settling into the Rangers shirt.
This is not to knee-jerk react – far from it – he has a lot of ground to make up before we’re totally convinced and we’d still very much call him on his lack of crossing.
But there’s no question we’ve seen some real progress over the past month or two.
While his actual performance v St Mirren wasn’t stellar, his goal was out of this world. It won the match, and he then went onto deliver again for his country twice. Since the end of the international break we’ve seen a very subtle improvement, and just slowly the Croat international looks like he’s finally getting to grips with the expectation of Rangers and Steven Gerrard.
It’s bizarre it’s taken this long for an international of his calibre to finally get used to being a Ranger, but Steven Gerrard’s persistence does seem to have paid off at last and we’re starting to see the international Borna appearing in our shirt a little more.
Against Feyenoord he clearly had his best match ever for the club – working hard and defending, while providing balance on the left – and while yesterday maybe wasn’t quite as strong, it was close, and we were once again nodding in approval of his performance.
So… now that we’re starting to see the real him, what exactly is the new Borna?
It’s evident Borna Barisic’s biggest problem as a Rangers player is James Tavernier and formerly Lee Wallace – Rangers fans have been so used to their fullbacks bombing down the wings and playing as pseudo-wingers that they expected that from Barisic.
And it’s become clear that just isn’t the kind of player he is.
Barisic is far more measured – as he’s gotten more used to the shirt, his reading of the game has improved, and his defending has become notable – yesterday he glued himself late on to Stevie May, refusing to give him quarter and the striker just couldn’t get past, Barisic coming out on top.
And with Tavernier bombing up the other side, Barisic is most frequently to be seen at the half way line, preparing to either support the attack from the left, or help out with the defence – he’s always judging which one is the priority at any given time.
The big problem we do have is we know this guy has an amazing left foot – and while his free kick yesterday didn’t find the net, the bend around the wall was quite something and it wasn’t far off – but he’s not producing this in open play from the left flank – none of those stunning crosses are coming in, meaning a potential rich outlet of chances isn’t coming to fruition.
This must be Gerrard instruction because we know Barisic is capable of it.
This is not to say we’ve changed our minds totally on the Croat – he has a lot more matches to prove he’s really the true deal now. And we know we’re always being accused of changing our minds every other week on players.
Well consider this us being willing to do so in this case – but only if he keeps this up.