In the fanfare of winning 55, the qualification to last 16 (and strong chance of quarters) and being potentially welcomed to Parkhead with a Guard of Honour, a very subtle change has happened which went rather under the fan radar.
It happened in the second half of Rangers’ trip to Belgium during our sensational win over Royal Antwerp, and has been thus ever since:
Ryan Kent’s sparkling return to form.
There’s no denying the English winger lost his way a little late last year. After a sensational start then autumn, the former Liverpool man’s performances lost a little bit of shine, and while he was mostly working as hard as before and never stopped trying, the sharpness wasn’t quite there.
He appeared, however, to be undroppable and Stevie G wouldn’t rest him.
Until he made the dramatic call to start Arfield and Roofe over Kent and indeed Ianis Hagi, before bringing the former on for the second half in the last 32 first leg.
This was a move widely backed by fans – they’d wanted to see Kent rested, dropped, put under a little pressure – and it worked. Kent’s second half cameo was absolutely sensational and his goal… out of this world, frankly.
Ever since that second half in Belgium, Kent’s stats read 4 goals, and two assists. In 6 matches. Simply sensational – without any major headlines Kent has quietly been Rangers’ most prolific player the past few weeks, regaining his hunger, his spark, and the goals and assists have consequently ramped up.
Indeed, he’s already absolutely destroyed his stats from last season, 8 and 4 in 34, with this season’s 11 and 13 in 44, and that’s with November, December and January being a bit flat and us still a couple of months off the end of the season.
No, this was excellent management from Gerrard – he’s given Kent his hunger back, and shown him he’s not undroppable any more.
And now we’ve got our £7.5M attacker in full flow once more.
Kent… will tear you apart again….