Rangers have qualified for the Europa League KO stage with a game to spare. With such a stunning achievement against sides of the calibre of Galatasaray, Benfica and Liege, it’s natural to look at the standout performers.
After all, last season Borna Barisic’s assists and Alfredo Morelos’ goals were top of the charts in terms of player statistics for the whole tournament, and so we’re curious where we are this season.
Surprisingly, not a single Rangers player is anywhere to be seen in any of the top lists of attainment, with just Morelos’ repeated offsides making Rangers the second most offsided team in the whole competition.
And yet, Rangers went through comfortably, with 90 minutes still to go.
So what do we attribute the lack of individual standouts in the Europa League lists on Rangers’ part?
Steven Gerrard has completely changed the structure and pattern of how this team plays; in conjunction with tactics guru Michael Beale, the two have overhauled Rangers’ system entirely, and removed any reliance on any one player.
And the fact that not a single Rangers player is anywhere near the top of any statistics chart this season in the Europa League shows how the focus is away from the individual, and is all about the collective.
Despite having great assets like Tavernier, Barisic, Kent, Kamara and Morelos, none of them get more focus than anyone else, and there is no reliance on a sole player, which was a major issue in recent seasons, especially on the Colombian striker.
Now he’s just a team player, scoring less, but the team as a whole is now an automaton. It is a single unit, which has changing parts all the time. If one player isn’t doing it, another can replace him to little or no cost.
And that’s the difference.
If you expect individuals in this side begin dominating the team, it just isn’t going to happen.
Gerrard wants a unit that works as one, instead of one player hogging the limelight.
And it’s worked like a dream this season.