Steven Gerrard has come in for some small flack recently. Despite the results, performances haven’t been the best and one controversial choice in particular has divided fans rather significantly.
The selection of Filip Helander over the past three matches has only attracted the ire of the biggest advocates of Nikola Katic, given the Croat seems to have lost his place without reason while his traditional partner Connor Goldson continues out of form.
However, there’s been a notably significant improvement in one player who seems to have benefited more than most from Helander’s place next to him.
Borna Barisic may not quite have set the Glaswegian heather alight at Ibrox, but he has substantially improved these past few matches, and while it may just be a complete coincidence, the timing of the Swede’s introduction to the team in conjunction with the Croat’s upgraded performance is certainly stark and conspicuous.
Helander may have had a torrid time in Livi, but for some reason his place in the team seems correlated to the ex-Osijek man’s improvement, and this may be a major reason Steven Gerrard is selecting him.
Of course, Helander has been in the game longer than Katic, and plays for his country while also being a former UCL and Serie A regular – that kind of calibre of player, regardless of current form, is going to rub off on someone like Barisic who is starting to slowly realise his club potential, having already got there for his nation.
He’s also a left footer, notably, therefore would ‘partner’ Goldson better and compliment Barisic more efficiently too – although of course Katic is a right footer and could himself partner Helander with ease.
Which is not to completely endorse Helander’s place in the team – readers know we’re huge supporters of Katic and feel he’s been hard done by, again, given his present form – but the ‘side effect’ is it may just be the former Bologna stopper is helping get the best out of his left back colleague.
Silver linings and all that…