Leon King was at the centre of quite a lot of criticism last night on Ibrox Noise, not from us on the site, but from the audience.
We rated the lad 3/10, he was clearly heavily culpable for Ajax’s first, not helped of course by the useless James Tavernier, and gave away that penalty earlier in the campaign.
But the reality is Leon King wasn’t ready – he was never ready, and while he had promise, an 18-year old has to be special to cope with the Champions League as among his maiden matches at senior level. Danny Wilson actually did, but he had Carlos Cuellar next to him, and he was very promising indeed.
It’s safe to say that while those around him haven’t helped, a rookie at 18 is going to be slaughtered by Mo Salah and the best of Ajax and Napoli, and it’s 100% not his fault for any of it.
It’s also not his manager’s, because Leon King and James Sands are all Giovanni has to choose from at the moment, with only slim hope Ben Davies will be back this weekend. See, we cannot know for sure who ok’d the exits of Balogun and Katic, but Gio did claim in press briefings that he didn’t like Katic, and Katic himself backed that up. So we cannot help feel that was as much a Gio call as anyone else.
But we don’t know for sure, and the end result regardless of who made that decision is that we culminated in having just zero defenders available – a rookie 18-year old, and a midfielder/defender who can play both.
We’re not going to blame King, not at all. He did his best, even though the same fans begging management to use the youth are the same ones last night blaming King quite aggressively over his part in the opening goal.
Is it any wonder management is always reluctant to use our young players when they get widely abused for their errors – errors are part of learning and abusing these kids when they make them helps no one.
No, King wasn’t ready, nowhere near it, and we won’t blame him for anything he’s done wrong. When he’s 22 and making the same errors, sure, he becomes more culpable at that point. But a teen?
No, fans should leave the lad alone, he’s not choosing Rangers to have this chaotic defensive nightmare, and he’s not the one forcing his own selection.
It’s just a very unfortunate state of affairs.