Last night’s win over Porto was a strange old one. It was a rank-rotten first half, let’s not kid ourselves, in which the visitors were the superior side but lacked killer edge, while the home side barely strung a single pass together and too many players just seemed off-colour.
But then the Jekyll and Hyde nature of a ‘game of two halves’ emerged and Rangers, marginally better after the restart, scored a brilliantly opportunistic goal modestly against the run of play and then went on to be by far the better side.
However, among all the jubilation of this excellent result, we get the nagging feeling one Rangers player definitely emerged a little bruised (and social media seems to back this up).
Brandon Barker, an honest and decent enough individual, was probably exposed more than most last night as simply not good enough to compete for Rangers at that kind of level.
Now, we should reaffirm – Barker is not a rotten player – he did well at Hibs, enough that his performance at Easter Road v James Tavernier where he gave Rangers’ captain a torrid time is the one we all remember.
And overall he was pretty good during his time there.
But last night, unfortunately, he did look like a Hibs player.
Barker will do Rangers an honourable enough turn in the SPL – he’s a very decent squad level player, and perhaps he has some developing to do to bloom further, which isn’t a shock at his age (he’s only 23), but we cannot help feeling that beyond as a late sub, his place probably isn’t in Rangers’ Europa League XIs.
Many expressed surprise that Sheyi Ojo wasn’t starting, but of course the player to have the most impact on arrival having replaced the outgone Barker was Scott Arfield.
And regardless of who you’d prefer between the Liverpool loanee and the Canada international, we’d imagine the majority probably wouldn’t have Barker in their first-choice Rangers side.
Of course, Steven Gerrard makes these calls and not us, and he’ll look at the 2-0 score as vindication, but then Barker had just been taken off and then Morelos scored.
It was a signing made in the first place on the basis that Kent wasn’t coming, that we weren’t spending the money and Liverpool wouldn’t loan him.
It’s safe to say a 60% Kent is 20x the player Barker is, and that’s no fault of the ex-City lad.
And we’re lucky we do have Kent, but similarly fortunate to have a solid bit of squad depth in the form of Barker.
But maybe preferably only for the SPL.
But it’s not us who makes those calls.