A lot of fans are talking about the new lease of life under Michael Beale at Rangers for Ryan Kent, who has ‘thrived’ on the new system.
He’s being strongly-praised now for his improved displays under the new boss, and fans are now hoping he signs the new deal after all.
There is, however, something most have missed – Kent hasn’t improved at all; he’s just being noticed more now.
Kent’s numbers, for a start, are exactly the same under Beale that they were under Gio. The first 14 SPL matches of the season produced 5 assists and a goal for the winger (he was absent for two of those), since Beale has been in charge his numbers, if anything, have gone slightly down, 3 assists 2 goals.
However, because Beale changed the system to make the wide men more narrow, Kent is less isolated on the left and is roaming freely – meaning he’s literally in fans’ eyeline much more, and being seen much more.
All the stuff they didn’t really notice under Gio, they now do under Beale.
For example, in the league, up till Gio’s exit, Kent had had 28 successful dribbles. Since Beale took over it’s only 13 (the new system is the reason for this, it’s not necessarily a criticism). In dispossession, he suffered 19 till Gio left, after that it’s 22.
In all the stats Kent is actually marginally inferior to what he was under Gio, but because he was already great, it’s just that supporters now actually see with their eyes what Gio’s system perhaps hid a little bit.
Kent always worked hard, he always tried hard, and he never hid. He went for dribbles, tried things, linked things – but due to that wider isolation on the left and the lack of freedom to come more central, he was not noticed like he is now.
Now fans are seeing him, and praising him for ‘improved’ performances, when the reality is they’re just seeing him thanks to the system more.
Either way though, it’s good he’s getting credit at long last – pity it took so long for most of the supporters to actually see what Kent has been doing most of the season anyway.