Steven Gerrard’s wide-ranging chat with Rangers TV yesterday revealed a lot of key facets of the manager’s thinking, but one of the most telling was one we hinted at in our piece last night on Connor Goldson.
It was the discussion that Gerrard is now truly content with his centre backs, and that he’s finally in a position that defence is 100% complete.
However, despite the fact the manager also touched on Croat Niko Katic’s dreadful injury, there is now a huge question mark hanging in the air over the giant stopper’s Rangers career.
He won’t be back, potentially, till early next year, and by then he’ll be so far off the first-team picture it’ll be painful.
In his absence Stevie brought in the excellent Leon Balogun, and Filip Helander has fully settled in and found his game, while George Edmundson has had to play second fiddle despite a fine pre-season and lastly Connor Goldson remains an absolute stalwart of the defence.
The point? Where on earth does Katic figure now?
He was already struggling to find a place under Gerrard, who suggested the young defender had a lot to learn about patience and reading the game. That he was too keen, and ultimately a bit too rash.
Katic had never managed to hold a place in this team, no matter how much the fans love and loved him, and now that there are four excellent alpha defenders all vying for the places in his absence, we honestly do not see what pathway Niko has back in.
Five into two really doesn’t go, four is a nice number, and there has to be one casualty of this squad where it comes to five men for two shirts.
Of course, Katic signed a long-term deal not that long ago, a deal to take him to around 29-years of age, and Leon Balogun isn’t exactly the youngest (still only 32 mind you). But we can’t help wondering if Katic’s injury has sadly completely derailed his Rangers career, because he’s going to have a hell of a battle to regain a shirt in 6 months that he didn’t even completely have in the first place.
Of course, ultimately, it’s about competition, and top-quality competition at that. Rangers are now blessed to have five great defenders, even if one of them is currently AWOL.
It will be fascinating to see how Gerrard keeps all five happy in the medium to long term.