If there’s one man who can consider himself deeply unfortunate at Rangers the past three months, it’s the striker who was on course to becoming one of the greatest in his position for our club, but who found circumstance and injury went horribly against him and he’s become nothing more than a bit-part player now.
Antonio Colak must be deeply frustrated with how the last few months have panned out. 3 goals in four Champions League qualifying matches, and 11 in 15 Premiership matches meant by November the 9th, the man had a stunning 14 goals in 19 club fixtures.
Not at all far off a ridiculous 100% or 1-in-1 ratio, with only one other striker in the UK managing that level, that being the utter phenomenon that is Norway’s Erling Haaland.
But yet, that ugly ‘big three’ trio of fixtures in late September were the start of a horrible spell for him, where he went completely blank, given no service, and struggled to make anything happen and started losing his place in a terrible team to the absolutely apathetic Alfredo Morelos who missed plenty of gilt-edge chances not least in Italy.
The problem for Colak now is it’s generally deemed he can’t fit into Michael Beale’s Rangers system, but the truth about that assetion is it’s completely false.
How? Beale admitted a few years ago he’d been trying to accommodate Joe Aribo, to build the team around the Nigerian, and preseason he’d done it, found the right system for the now Southampton man, but of course he’d got injured during all this and Ianis Hagi and others had filled in, the system still flourishing.
What does this prove? It proves Beale can adapt to the players he has, get the best out of them by fixing the puzzle around them, and not by shoehorning them into the system he wants from them.
Now that was as assistant, but as manager? Beale has to accept he must do the same – build the team around Antonio Colak and dump Morelos completely. They might be two different strikers but if Beale is any good as a manager, he has to adapt and use his best players, not his favourite ones.
And he must find the right blend to get the best of Colak because the Croat is by far the best striker in the league.
There’s something else too – Colak played the ‘Morelos’ role in Eindhoven – he played the lone striker, the holding forward, the nuisance hitman who created space, came deeper, and found the gaps, while dragging defenders away.
It led to the winning goal, which Malik Tillman assisted.
In short, the Croat can absolutely play that role, if that’s what’s asked of him – so don’t for a second think he can’t play the Morelos style.
Beale has to find the best way to use him, because Antonio Colak wasting away on the bench while Morelos misses yet more chances and probably gets sent off is just utterly rotten management.