Rangers’ star left back Borna Barisic has revealed the real reason for his turnaround.
It wasn’t ‘that’ goal at St Mirren, it wasn’t the ultimatum Steven Gerrard gave him last season, and it wasn’t anything to do with rumoured language barrier or struggles to settle in.
Indeed, it was even more simple than all this.
It was the pure fact he got a Rangers pre-season this summer.
Last summer, Barisic was playing for Osijek in the Europa League qualifiers, and had had his pre-season with the Croats.
Following the tie with Rangers, the fullback found himself fast-tracked to Scotland and signing on the dotted line playing for a colossal club. Without an ounce of preparation whatsoever.
Suddenly, this Croat international, coming from a fairly modest European league with midrange intensity was thrust into the cauldron of Scottish football and Glasgow’s goldfish bowl, without an ounce of summer prep to get him ready.
In short, he’d been thrown into a completely new environment, culture, football style, and frankly life without so much as a hello to his new team mates.
And this helps explain why he sunk last campaign in Glasgow but still managed to produce for his country – he already knew his team mates, the environment, the coach, the setup for the NT.
As he said himself:
“I knew I was always determined to be here at Rangers, that I have a lot of quality and that my problem was just one of physicality at that moment. The biggest problem for me was that I was getting injured all the time because it is not easy to adapt from Croatian football to Scottish football. When you get injured a second, then a third time, you cannot catch up. Pre-season was a turning point. I took no real rest but worked hard and came back twice as strong. That has helped me be much sharper and better adapted to playing here.”
True, the injuries played a part, but just how many of those has he received this season despite hatchet men like Ryan Pourteous trying to dictate otherwise?
None, because his pre-season has allowed him to adapt mentally and physically to Scottish football and to his team mates and environment in a way he wasn’t furnished with last season.
And while the St Mirren goal certainly helped his confidence, and probably accelerated things a bit, that goal itself wouldn’t have gone in had he not felt better about himself in the first place thanks to pre-season and no injuries.
Good to have a world class LB again, it really is.