With Rangers’ form in a pretty splendid place right now as we enter an international break, two men, one especially, have been more or less completely forgotten in the hype over top of the league.
Joe Aribo and Greg Docherty, for differing reasons, have been on the outside looking in the past month or so, with the former getting back on the bench v Hamilton and the latter barely touching the match day squad at all.
Now, remembering Docherty’s stats in League One last season were subtly better than the ex-Charlton man’s, and for a far worse team in the same division at that, in the same position, but manager Steven Gerrard went for the new signing rather than sticking with the returning midfielder.
That was a pretty significant indictment of the Scot we have to say, even if it could just be portrayed as extra options.
And it’s also safe to mention a number of key points which will become more important come the end of the break:
1: Rangers’ present midfield of Davis, Jack and Arfield, with rotation on Kamara, is clearly doing the business now. It’s the most in-form the centre has been since last season’s split, and that’s certainly a problem for any midfielder who isn’t one of those four.
2: Gerrard just isn’t a big fan of Docherty – despite those stats, despite his hard work, something about him doesn’t seem to appeal to the manager. He went out on loan rather than remaining, and the likes of 21-year old Ovie Ejaria and 21-year old Lassana Coulibaly came in on loan instead last season.
3: Joe Aribo has been close to rank rotten since arriving. Any Charlton quality the lad allegedly has has been conspicuous in its absence, and all four of the current selection have been better than him over the course of the season. On pure form, he doesn’t have a shout.
So, this pair, so hyped this summer as being gems for the midfield who would push each other to great heights and deliver a superb attacking midfield option between the pair of them, just haven’t materialised into that, and instead Ryan Jack has been Rangers’ number one 10 this campaign. Aribo may have missed through injury, but he’s just not been good enough when he’s played.
Of course, it’s early days, and perhaps Docherty’s time will come and Aribo will improve, but with the midfield playing as well as it currently is, will either of them get the opportunity to prove themselves anyway?
It’s all been about rotation with Gerrard this season – more or less one team for the SPL and one for the UEL.
But the changes have reduced the past month. The squad has settled more, and while there has still been swapping, it’s definitely become less disruptive, meaning neither Aribo nor Docherty can rely on that as a way back in.
What we will say is as long as Rangers win and play well as a bonus, it probably doesn’t truly matter if either of them play much again anyway.