Joe Aribo yesterday carried out his own press conference alongside Stevie’s pre-St Mirren appearance, and what we found the most telling was the tactical insight the Nigerian explained to resolve his position.
Fans have often wondered what his absolute best slot is, and while the younger Aribo argued it was attacking midfield for his early Nigeria call up days, his approach is a bit different now:
In fairness most players would say that, ‘happy to play anywhere for the team’ is a common answer.
But this following quote is more insightful:
This is useful – Aribo explains his deployment just depends on who we’re playing against and how they play.
Of course, that’s nothing new – you tweak the setup to provide the best system to counter it.
But in this case, Aribo’s impact as an attacker has been lessened a little it seems to help the team out, in getting the ball deeper and pulling the side up the pitch, or getting it higher to keep them there.
There’s no denying he’s not quite hit the heights consistently at Ibrox yet, but his admission here does suggest he’s playing much more of a team game now than the initial setup this summer was going to ask of him.
He has certainly played deeper since the formation change, which we’ve argued hasn’t seen the best of him – and Aribo’s own admission does hint this is true.
But there’s a method here – his role is more of a carrier now, retaining the ball in the middle and driving up to the final third to support either midfield or attack, depending how the opponent shapes up. And the low blocks comment? This is when teams sit in and Rangers have to retain the ball high up and find ways through the tight space, something Aribo is brilliant at.
Which probably means we might see a little less of his explosive attacking play for now, and that’s ok.
If it’s working for the team, and we’re winning, we can have few complaints.