Yesterday’s win over Hamilton was pretty critical. Sure, regaining the goal difference would have been nice, and after Ryan Jack’s early opener we probably all thought a 0-6 thrashing was possible, if not probable.
Sadly, once the home side nabbed the poorly-defended equaliser it was clear this wouldn’t be a stroll, but two men stood out as particularly unable to gee themselves up for the fight ahead.
Scott Arfield and Joe Aribo had arguably their worst performances of the season, with the former being surprisingly off-key, but the latter continuing his stuttering start to life at Ibrox.
But of course, the key point is both men were coming off the back of international breaks taking place on the opposite sides of the planet to New Douglas Park respectively, and they both looked jaded for it.
Meanwhile, Alfredo Morelos, also off the back of one taking place in the same country as Arfield’s, USA, was rested on the bench instead.
This was wise management of the Colombian, even if Jermain Defoe didn’t have his best afternoon – but it begs the question of why Arfield and Aribo did start.
One reply to our analysis of the match suggested Arfield should always be rested after international breaks, and frankly we completely see that point, while suggesting it might apply to any of our non-Europeans who end up in different continents for these two-week periods.
Glen Kamara, Borna Barisic and Filip Helander, to name just three, all had much shorter excursions across the globe, taking part as they did (or benched benched in Helander’s case) in matches not a million miles from Britain, while Aribo, Arfield and Morelos found themselves in dramatically different timezones.
We just feel in future the management of Morelos, carefully preserved against Hamilton, should apply to the likes of Arfield too – he especially did not look energised v Brian Rice’s side, and plodded rather painfully till he was eventually hooked.
We’re not saying the manager got it wrong, but we’d say he should alter policy to rest certain players off the back of these breaks, rather than expecting Arfield to keep his level up through thousands of miles round trip.
Of course, it had a happy ending, even if Gerrard wasn’t happy with the performance – but he will have learned from this one we hope.
It’s not like Rangers lack the depth any more.