Yesterday’s gritty win over Livi was hardly vintage football, flowing fare, but it did secure the critical 3 points Rangers desperately needed following Celtic’s win up north.
However, the performances of four men stood out significantly, and the identities and circumstances of those players stood out even more.
Rangers’ best performers, and crucially, the hardest-working, were Steven Davis, Scott Arfield, Ianis Hagi and Andy Halliday.
And each one of those has a small story which is more than revealing.
Steven Davis was off the back of being dropped – he’d not been at his best, had missed Ryan Jack, and in this one, restored to the first team, the NI international worked even harder than usual, especially defensively, to prove he deserves his place back.
Scott Arfield, the man of the match, not only scored the winner but led extremely well and stood out on a rotten afternoon in Govan – and Scott Arfield is one of the very few players who hasn’t been given a new contract. He remains on the one he signed in 2018, and unlike everyone else who gets rewarded mid-season for good performances (and then loses form quickly), the Canada international hasn’t. Perhaps it’s best he doesn’t get a new deal any time soon…
Ianis Hagi is in a similar boat to Arfield – he is playing for his future, being on a loan deal, and knows he has to impress to secure the permanent contract at Ibrox. This will cost Rangers around £5M up front, so the Romanian knows he needs to be on point for the whole campaign to persuade Rangers’ board to part with such big money for him.
And Andy Halliday will always give his best – he’s another one who hasn’t been given a new deal, and would run through brick walls for his side, as he literally did yesterday. Halliday knows what this club means, and he has an opening right now to show he’s worth a bigger first team slot. Whether he’s worth that is for others to debate, but his heart and enthusiasm could never be tamed.
The rest yesterday? Kind of average at best. But then half of them are on new deals and contracted on plush contracts long term.
The standouts are the ones who still have hunger, or who recently got dropped.
Food for thought.