The imminent return of Ianis Hagi, marginally ahead of schedule, is an indication of exactly why Giovanni van Bronckhorst has earned the right to a ‘second chance’ after such an awful start to season 22/23.
The Romanian playmaker, such a bright spot since his arrival from Belgian football, has been unavailable for around a year due to a very bad ACLI, with an initial 6-month return promised while Ibrox Noise told you it would be closer to 2023.
As it turns out, the attacking midfielder may in fact be available before the end of the year, with his returning to training underway in earnest – he still may have some time to go but sub appearances are not impossible.
And when you have an extremely talented playmaker ready to step up, it makes you realise just how short Giovanni has been for depth, with just underperforming Malik Tillman, ‘not a playmaker’ Scotty Arfield and ‘not really ready’ Alex Lowry to choose from in that area.
The loss of Joe Aribo changed Rangers dramatically, more than we realised when he moved on – we lost the complete central hub of our attacking quadrant, and without Hagi to take his place there was nothing.
Now with the Romanian back it may start to give some semblance of context, of what Gio actually had to deal with the past few months. Yes, the performances and results haven’t sparkled this season, but what did we expect with an 18-year old Bayern reject and Fashion Sakala up front?
It’s been a skeleton squad, and Hagi’s return should see the beginning of a significant improvement on the pitch – not overnight, but certainly tangible.
It really is basic football maths – you take away half of a team’s best players, do you really expect their performances and results to be the same?
Rangers fans have, and reacted with fury at Scott Wright and Fashion Sakala not living up to Hagi and Aribo.
Which is understandable, we big our players up and want to believe a player who wasn’t good enough for Aberdeen is good enough for us, that our scouting saw in Wright a player that Aberdeen didn’t realise was ‘that’ good. But like Sakala, an honest trier isn’t good enough for Rangers when he’s what we rely on.
This is why Rangers need Hagi and so many other of our players back, plus some quality in January.
Then we can properly begin to judge Gio.