If this season’s and year’s poor performances have taught us one thing, it’s that Rangers are as reliant now on Ryan Jack as we were in 2011 on Steven Naismith.
In 2011, Rangers sailed to the top of the league and were dominating the SPL. Steven Naismith was like three players in one, and his performances absolutely lit the club up. They made, bless him, Ally McCoist look like a great manager (you know we love you Ally).
But that injury in November proved impossible to replace, and nothing Ally did could stop the performances immediately falling to pieces. Celtic went above us within a few weeks and that was that.
Ryan Jack, today, seems to be of much the same relevance and gravity.
Before his issues last season, Rangers’ form and performances were just magical. The records were being torn up, and James Tavernier, being beautifully covered by Jack, was able to play more as a forward and scored and assisted to a stunning level for a RB.
But after Jack’s injury?
Tav’s form dried up pretty much overnight, and Rangers have not looked the same side since.
Before Jack was out, we simply were not conceding goals. The defence was remarkable. The stats with Jack in the side were literally frightening, record-breaking.
After his injury sidelined him, the form immediately started to turn. There was still just enough to win 55, because the damage had been done in 2020, but from February and his injury onwards, Rangers simply haven’t looked half the side they were before we lost him.
Steven Davis’ game is being completely ruined in the pursuit of having to do Jack’s job and cover the defence, and Tavernier in particular, and it’s left him totally jaded. He’s simply not up to that.
We cannot underestimate the impact losing Jack has had. If you’d asked us do we want a bunch of new signings this summer, or Ryan Jack fit, it would have been the latter every time.
He might or might not have been able to get us in the CL, but we’d have stood a far better chance with his defensive acumen in the team. Without – look how exposed our defence has been.
You want some numbers?
With Jack fit last season, we conceded 2 in 18 SPL matches. EIGHTEEN. Without him last season it’s 10 in 14. This season? Already 12 in 12 matches in all competitions. 5 in 6 in the SPL.
The numbers prove the point.
It is literally a completely different Rangers team without Ryan Jack – his staggering defending, grass covering and all-round dynamism is painfully absent, and the rest don’t have the game to compensate for it.
Just like the loss of Naismith in 2011, Rangers have no answer for the loss of Jack.
But both of these guys are/were one in a million. Hard to replace that.