They say you learn more in defeat than you do in victory; well, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers last night put that one to the test as, on one of those rare contrary occasions, we’ve learned far more in victory than we have in recent losses.
And one of those big titbits of wisdom is the new role Stevie has carved out for Joe Aribo, following the colossus’ patchy start to life in Glasgow.
There’s never been any doubt the lad could play, and had talent, close control, and technical quality. You don’t play and excel for Nigeria if you’re a dud.
But finding the right place for him in his team has proven an issue for the manager, an issue in getting the consistency from him.
A 10 in front of midfield didn’t work, neither did deeper, so Joe Aribo started to show a bit on the right flank before that too failed.
Then we saw a bright spark back as 10 with Tavernier and Hagi outside him, making space, but that too seemed to dwindle pretty quick.
But in the past few matches Aribo seems, finally, to have found his niche, even if it’s not one he’ll be utterly thrilled with:
Aribo struggles to find a level of consistency the more minutes he gets, but Stevie seems to have figured out if the ex-Charlton man thins out his time on the pitch, compresses his spells on the turf, we get more from him.
In short, the more he’s out there, the less effective he ends up being.
While he wasn’t magical yesterday, he did provide a good balance, and seems reliable in steadying the ship when that’s needed.
Then in the first leg, he came on, and scored a wonder goal – impact.
In short, we get the most out of him from the bench, and while he will still be privileged with starts now and then, it does seem like the best way to keep him hungry and at it, is by using him later as a sub to balance out or impact the match.
We’ve learned he’s able in a variety of positions; he’s even played LB a couple of times.
He’s versatile, for such a big lad.
And that versatility makes him more useful as a utility from the bench than as a starter to shoehorn in.
Stevie may just have finally figured out properly how to use Joe Aribo.