Tonight is less a chance to show Rangers are over a blip, more an opportunity to slightly smoothen rough waters, and for a number of players to demonstrate that they’re working for this club with all they have.
Our key areas of interest for this piece are Steven Davis, Scott Arfield, Jermain Defoe and Borna Barisic.
In Davis’ case we’re already seeing some accusations that he’s ‘too old’ and while that may be a little unfair, and he’s more of a fine wine, there’s little doubt he’s been dramatically off the pace this season with both possession and distribution.
Scott Arfield is well below his best, that injury taking an awful lot out of him it seems, and he’s not really been a big part of the team pretty much this whole calendar year.
Jermain Defoe we were slaughtered for questioning his use in pre-season, when he was clearly absolutely past it, and those dissenting voices have gone quiet as it’s become clear he is indeed at the end of his playing career and migrating into the coaching side.
And lastly Barisic. Ibrox Noise’s Natalie suggested he’s not right, and that he’s still injured, noticing a slight limp from the Croat on Tuesday, which may explain his reluctance to get ‘stuck in’. This has been going since April and the left back is definitely not himself right now.
We’ve randomly selected these four players, for no real reason – not to target or bully good Rangers men, but to demonstrate the current malaise isn’t just Goldson, Kent and Tavernier or John Lundstram. Most fans are aware many players aren’t delivering, but quite a few are being mentioned a lot more than others.
But Davo’s not at it, Arfield’s off it, Barisic ain’t great and Defoe is finished, basically.
Is there the feeling Rangers put so incredibly much into last season that they’re spent? That guys older, like Davo and Arfield, have nothing left in their tanks? Certainly in Defoe’s case, and Barisic himself is actually getting on a bit too, nearing the wrong side of 30.
The workrate is notably lower this season and the ones on the pitch who seem to be putting the most in are the younger ones like Wright, Morelos, Kent and Kamara, certainly in terms of movement.
This summer was vital to rebuild this squad, to add a few extra legs to refresh the existing personnel. Only really two players have come in, and at present, this squad looks completely exhausted.
If Stevie wants to begin to get out of this slump, he’d be better served using as many fresh, young and hungry players as he can tonight. Because the Steven Davises and Scott Arfields of this world are running on fumes.
Nathan Patterson, Scott Wright, Cedric Itten, Joe Aribo, Glen Kamara, Calvin Bassey, Niko Katic – use the younger hungry talent and freshen things up.
But then, we’re not the manager. What do we know?