As we reflect on the bitter disappointment of the Paisley horror show, we’re looking at the absence of three key men in last night’s starting eleven in an attempt to figure out what actually went wrong and how to put it right. We’ve already covered Helander and Barisic, but here we look at Morelos.
Clearly given their strong Republic of Ireland influences and with a Hampden semi-final at stake, St Mirren were more than motivated. That said, this Rangers side, this season should be able to go there and get a result nine times out of ten regardless of personnel. However, something just didn’t look right and it’s important that we get to the bottom of it in time to bounce back in time for the weekend and kick on towards 55.
First things first, we missed Morelos; often criticised for his evident lack of form in front of goal this season, there are few more controversial players at Rangers and indeed in football at the moment than he, but even his harshest critics would need to look at the way we played tonight and recognise in his absence just what he has been bringing to the team over the course of the last four magical months.
In typical Alfredo style, he goes and gets himself needlessly suspended just in time for a big quarter final tie with a ridiculous challenge that, lets be honest, we’re lucky he wasn’t sent off for in the first place, to skulk away down the tunnel for an early bath, potentially taking 2 or even 3 points with him to throw down the proverbial plughole.
In his defence though, you look at the absolute horror challenge on him in the first match against Dundee United and knowing him as we do, think to ourselves – it’s not surprising that the lad was riled up for the trip to Tannadice and wanted to leave his mark on a few of their players…we’d far rather he did that by banging in a hat-trick than recklessly throwing elbows about, but anyway I digress.
The point is, that last night, St Mirren were made to look a lot more organised than most teams we’ve faced domestically this season and that’s because Morelos wasn’t there to disrupt them. We’re fortunate enough that we haven’t had to rely on him for goals this season, of course it helps when your right back is on 16 goals already, but Morelos has been used to do a very different job this season.
What was apparent last night was the lack of space in behind their defence and just like the 0-0 with Livingston earlier in the season, the seemingly missing link between our midfield and attack. Enter Alfredo, what he’s been doing for us is dragging centre halves and defensive midfielders out of position and creating gaps for the likes of Roofe and Arfield to run into, meaning opposition full backs are torn between tucking in and covering them or dealing with the threat of Tav/Borna…either way the outcome is invariably the same – goal Rangers.
Sadly though, we’re once again asking ourselves “when will he learn?” when it comes to Morelos, that said – when he’s available for selection, he simply must play.
Unfortunately he has no one to blame for not doing so but himself.