Alfredo v Antonio – Rangers striker battle hots up

Alfredo v Antonio – Rangers striker battle hots up
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 16: Antonio-Mirko Colak of Rangers celebrates after scoring their team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League Play-Off First Leg match between Rangers FC and PSV Eindhoven at Ibrox Stadium on August 16, 2022 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

If there was a definitely victim yesterday of a diabolical first half, it was striker Antonio Colak. The Croatian striker, on absolute fire earlier in the season, is quickly seeing his Rangers dream turn into a nightmare, as he falls out of favour with Michael Beale who will always prefer Alfredo Morelos, despite the Colombian’s dreadful form and poor attitude, as well as general lack of fitness.

Colak’s performance in the first half admittedly wasn’t great, but there’s a reason for that:

He just doesn’t fit in with Michael Beale’s system. At all. See, under Giovanni van Bronckhorst before it all went south, Colak thrived because the wingers were playing like wingers, and feeding the middle. Instead of coming central themselves, they were just supplying the middle. Colak was thriving on that service and his goals mounted like no one’s business.

But when Gio’s style became negative, and wingers stopped the flanking and were getting no overlaps from the fullbacks, the service completely dried up to the striker, and the goals likewise.

Under Beale though, Colak doesn’t fit yet – with the new manager having the wingers cut in and having free-roaming attackers in general, Colak isn’t sure where to be at any given moment – his central role is too fluid and he’s not seeing the space he did earlier in the season. He can’t do damage.

While Morelos’ form is bad, his game suits how Beale plays better – he comes deeper happily, he gets involved between the middle and last third and he drags defenders around. But the great irony is neither of them are any good at the moment.

Colak wasn’t fit, that’s clear to see – he was isolated yesterday and only got 11 touches – he came deep but he can’t do much there. He is a predatory striker, and Gio’s game in the first two or three months suited him great.

But Morelos is a long way from ideal as well. Kris Boyd slaughtered the Colombian for making no impact, and he’s not wrong. He had a few shots, and his passing was alright, but he didn’t achieve anything. Some might argue the change in timbre and the fact Rangers came out the traps flying in the second half could be attributed to him, but that’s unlikely.

Colak is absolutely the better striker, and he wants to be at Rangers, but if that’s going to work out, Beale will have to adjust the system to get the best from the Croat.

Otherwise we’re stuck with Alfredo for a while.

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