There’s been a bit of an issue with Rangers’ defence for a while now. Whatever angle you take, there’s no apparent ‘best pairing’ in the centre, and we’ve noticed in recent weeks Connor Goldson has taken more abuse than we can remember in his entire time at Ibrox.
Almost every criticism of the backline has been castigating of Goldson, more than anyone else, and while the vice-captain isn’t blame free, the focus on him has been telling.
But in this piece we’re going to look at Mr In-and-out that is Niko Katic, a player who has been rotated more times than a spit under Steven Gerrard, and just why it is that he can’t seem to hold down a place.
And while Gerrard explained many weeks ago that Katic lacked patience, that he lacked understanding of when to wait and when to attack, and that he still needed to learn the art of defending, there is something else that we’re not keen on saying, but that has become apparent more and more this calendar year.
While we’d never expect our players to be candidates for Mensa, Niko Katic’s decision making is at best ill-advised and at worst utterly stupid.
The lad is the king of misjudgement, of poor decisions – it’s not just patience he needs, it’s a better understanding of when to make the move, and how to make the move.
No one will stomp through brick walls more than the Croat, but at age 23, we really would have thought he’d start to grow as a player.
If anything he’s going back the way.
Regular readers know we’re huge fans of the defender, and if he can iron out the flaws he will easily be a true club asset, so it is certainly not easy for us to be critical.
But Niko Katic quite literally needs to get smarter in his football, because that’s what’s stopping him.
One incident v Livi saw him borderline closing his eyes as he cleared a header, a weak header, straight to the opponent. He didn’t look, he just ran to the ball and bang. There was no apparent thought, no planning, and heading so weakly was hardly the solution.
In Katic’s defence, he has two big mitigating factors:
1: He has indeed been in and out of the team, it’s hard for him to maintain momentum and form. That is on Steven Gerrard who has done this with him since September 2018.
2: He’s not the only player to be out of form right now – since the winter break, the majority have been.
However, as a rebuttal for the first one, it’s perhaps BECAUSE of the way he is that he’s been out of the team – we don’t know what he’s like in training. We don’t know which one has caused the other, in truth.
Ultimately, either way, Rangers need better performances at the back – it’s cost a lot of points lately, and with Filip Helander still a ways away, Rangers won’t have any alternative solutions for a while yet.
Time for the fit players to buck their ideas up.