Sheyi Ojo was the big match winner against Feyenoord, with a belting goal to say the least, but the Liverpool loanee has been a divisive figure at best for Rangers and many have argued he isn’t up to the job.
But continuing Ibrox Noise’s current ‘hard facts’ series of checking out the numbers behind the opinions, is Ojo really the self-centred ineffective forward his detractors would allege?
Well, yes, is the categorical answer, and the numbers reveal just how badly.
He may have scored the winner that night, but Ojo otherwise had a pretty horrible evening all-round, and here’s how bad:
Sheyi Ojo, over 74 minutes, managed a dismal 14 passes – no one else in the side came close to this low. Nothing else sums up Sheyi Ojo’s self-indulgence more than his refusal to pass the ball.
But it gets worse; despite having just 14 passes, his success rate was even worse – Ojo had the worst percentage in the side, at just 64%. In short, Ojo made just under 8 successful passes in the whole match, which in his position is nothing short of catastrophic.
By comparison, Scott Arfield on the other flank managed 26 passes, and 77% of them reached their target. Not stunning, but a gulf ahead of the selfish Ojo on the opposite side.
Perhaps this was just an off-night for Ojo?
No, it wasn’t. If we fast-forward to Young Boys, it doesn’t improve for the ex-Reims man.
Once again by a clear distance he attempted the least number of passes on the night for Rangers – just 20. None of these were major passes, but his percentage was at least a little better at 75%.
Sheyi Ojo plays the game of football for himself, no one else.
He doesn’t like passing, and he wants the glory.
Indeed, he did win Rangers the match v Feyenoord but he had four shots in that match, and just two were on target. This is not to criticise an attacker for striking a shot, but Ojo frequently chooses that over passing to a free team mate. This is why his assist for Morelos at County stood out so much – because he rarely chooses that path. Similarly though this is not to say he doesn’t assist, because his stats this season show he clearly does – 5 assists in 22 is a very decent record.
But his record individually in matches is extremely revealing – imagine how many more assists this lad would get if he wasn’t so self-indulgent.
There is, however, a big catch – a major reason Ojo was so low in these matches for passes attempted is because he also received the ball the least number of times. He managed to get on the ball just 26 times compared to Morelos’ 60 against Feyenoord, while it was 33 v Young Boys – both of these were the lowest in the team, even lower than McGregor.
Now this points to two negatives for Ojo – either he is failing to make regular intelligent runs in the vein of a Jermain Defoe, so is never in space for a team mate to pick out, or his team mates avoid giving him the ball a lot as they know they’ll likely not see it again.
Or possibly a combination of both.
The facts are that Ojo is not a great option to have in the team.
If you want to sum up his contributions v Feyenoord and YB combined:
He received the ball 59 times in those two matches, but only attempted to find a team mate with it 34 times. That’s just over half – which is not a team player.
The worrying contradiction is he’s not much cop at dribbling either; how many useful dribbles did he manage in both matches combined, given he’s a winger? 2. 2 single dribbles, one in each match.
By note of comparison, in 82 minutes a half-fit Ryan Kent made 3 successful dribbles last night, but was given the ball 46 times (26 passes, 89% success). He’s a player his team mates trust to do something useful and/or pass the ball back.
It’s night and day over Ojo.
Conclusion; Ojo is not a player Rangers should trust or rely on. He doesn’t play for the team, and thinks it’s all about him. Indeed, his manager seems to have noted this and last night’s benching was significant along with an increased number of omissions from the starting XI in recent matches. Unfortunately for Brandon Barker, he didn’t really have the ability to take his big chance last night.
But either way, Kent and Arfield, until Jones is fully fit, is absolutely the direction for Rangers to go in.
There’s just no room for self-centred players. We’ll see if Stevie agrees.