Last night was the match Joe Aribo finally arrived in a Rangers shirt. Yes, it wasn’t absolutely spectacular and he still hasn’t quite nailed it 100%, but this performance was a huge improvement to his lethargic and worryingly uninvolved displays in the blue shirt for the majority of the season, and to literally do it in the proverbial Wednesday night in October in Dingwall showed the lad’s character isn’t the disinterested fop we may have feared.
Indeed, Ibrox Noise implored our readers to give this lad time – we were willing to criticise what he did wrong, but equally we were ready to big up the quality the guy has – close control, strength, composure, and smart use of the ball.
He showed all those last night, convincingly, for his first 8/10 display as a Rangers player in a meaningful match, and while there’s evidently a lot more to come from the Nigeria international, it was heartening to see him starting to look the part.
This move in the second half gave some idea of what he’s capable of in the mood, and while we’ve seen glimpses of this before, seeing it all fit together in one match was a sight to see
Furthermore, the big change in this one was the clearly advanced position he was playing, almost alongside Jack. By being more advanced, his creative juices flowed fully, rather than being hamstrung like he was against Motherwell in a more withdrawn role.
One reply we got for the analysis we gave re: the Steelmen was that Steven Gerrard maybe hadn’t fully understood the player he was getting. This was a reasonable claim, and yesterday’s response to shift him higher up paid the dividends he’d have hoped, and some of Aribo’s touch, movement, control and quick-thinking was out of the very top drawer.
Let’s not go near those worryingly-easily used words ‘world class’ just yet – he is an Nigeria international and he has all the tools to be as good as a Patrick Vieira or Yaya Toure. He’s only 23.
But he’s nowhere near that level yet – he could be that £20M+ player in the future, and yesterday showed the first signs of him realising that kind of path, and finally starting to grasp the SPL.
He’s going in the right direction – let’s hope he keeps taking it.