So the media has been going ape over Chris Sutton’s recent barbs about how the signing of Ryan Kent was out of pure desperation, but while the sudden expenditure was maybe a touch out of the blue, true, the acquisition of the player in question was 100% consistent with Rangers’ summer-long plans.
Indeed, if any signing was out of desperation or ‘resignation’ it was sadly Brandon Barker, whose recruitment was made on the basis of the apparent failure to bring in the Liverpool man.
But let’s look at Sutton’s claim for a second:
Desperation? Really? The player we’d sought permanently for the better part of 12 months was a ‘panic buy’ – does that make sense to anyone?
Steven Gerrard had made it abundantly clear he wanted Ryan Kent back, from as early as around November 2018. He didn’t care if it was a loan or permanent, he wanted the winger in Rangers colours for longer than that one season.
That is consistent. To suggest Kent’s eventual acquisition was a panic buy out of desperation is ridiculous.
Yes, we concede the result against Celtic might have had a part to play, but we also acknowledge the ‘winger’ theory about that match (we’ll cover that later) and that Kent’s signing was definitely a reaction to the outcome.
But the reality is this is not a 36-year old washed-up veteran who was brought in after we lost to Celtic as some kind of morale boost – this was Rangers’ number one target the whole summer and longer. So, no Chris, this wasn’t a panic buy at all.
That said, Brandon Barker was. There. We said it. We have nothing against the speedy winger, and he did absolutely kill James Tavernier under previous management, but no one would have expected, or wanted, Rangers to make a move to sign him permanently.
But with Kent dead in the water, what else could Steven Gerrard do? We had Jordan Jones and no one else was regarded as first-team first-pick. Murphy frozen out, Middleton not ready, Ojo fundamentally a right winger etc etc. Rangers needed another quality player in that slot, and with an apparent failure to get Kent, Barker was, and we don’t mean this as insultingly as it sounds – ‘sloppy seconds’.
He was the plan C and his arrival was greeted with only six words from almost every fan:
‘That’s the Kent deal dead then.’
No, Sutton is partially right to have called a left winger signing this summer a panic buy out of desperation (or resignation) but he picked the wrong one.