Looking at the performance and result on Saturday may have a lot of fans concluding the four changes, changed tactics and overloading of the box was the difference between a comfortable win like against Alex Dyer’s side, and the poor draw secured at Livi.
And there’s a lot of superficial reason to believe that.
Unfortunately, the facts reveal something very different indeed.
If we look at the numbers from both matches, they are, in fact, strikingly similar.
The heatmaps for the whole team v Livi:
Not much different.
As you can see, the passes – actually more at Livi, but not by a tonne.
The shape of the team was also fairly similar, so similar in fact it was easy to mix them up if not for the colour:
Shots were also very similar – 23 to 26.
The difference, in fact, was deeply subtle:
Shots on target.
3 v Livi, 10 v Killie.
The real difference in this match? Morelos’ absence. In the Colombian’s absence, more players who had the desire to attempt to score, with Kent, Hagi, Stewart, Barker, Jack and Davis among those who went for goal, actually hit it on target.
Against Livi, just 3 of 23 attempts went in the right direction but over three times that against Killie.
Rangers forged better movement without the Colombian, and by doing so, opened gaps, opened space, and found much stronger opportunities to go for goal.
There was simply more expression by these players without the petulant one there, meaning the shots and chances created were far more fluid and hit the target far more often than normal.
Now, there’s a slight caveat. V St Mirren, with him in the team, there were 28 shots and 7 of them were on target, outwith his, which took it to 12 total. However, this caveat has a caveat as well. With Morelos in the side, Ryan Kent is a tonne less effective – his shots in the same match were 3 with none on target.
Morelos out of the side makes Rangers certainly no weaker than him in it – and in fact can have a negative effect when he’s there. His style up front dominates the ball and reduces the effectiveness of those around him.
What are we ultimately saying? Morelos’ removal from the team for Saturday saw a drastic improvement in how clinical Rangers were up front compared with Livi away. And it demonstrated how matches with him in the team reduces just how clinical and effective everyone else becomes. They raise their game without him and the unit becomes a team.
Rangers are no poorer for not having him in the team, put it that way.