In the third part of our five-part series, we say goodbye today to Ryan Kent, who was confirmed as leaving recently among the quintet of Rangers’ exits to make his way to pastures new.
The winger has come in for heavy criticism over his goodbye itself, given he did not wear club colours or a suit, and instead dressed like he was ready to shizzle his nizzle with ‘Big G’.
However, jokes and wardrobe malfunctions aside, Kent has become, sadly, a maligned and rather disliked figure, despite doing absolutely nothing against the club and generally, till his departure maybe, doing nothing to disrespect the club.
We remember when we were first linked – we were underwhelmed. He’d failed to break through at Liverpool, and was alongside fellow Anfield kid Harry Wilson in paths – only Wilson did make it in football, getting to Premier League Fulham and the Wales national team. But he also had to go on loan, in his case Hull in the Championship, to make all that happen.
Kent got his loan to Rangers, but his CV hadn’t been great, and for the first three or four months of his time at Ibrox, he was the wrong player at the wrong club.
There was no understanding with his team mates, and he looked lost.
But then he came to life v Rapid in October, delivering a very impressive performance which had come from nowhere, only to replicate it 3 days later v Hearts with a goal before keeping it going v Hamilton and thereafter finally, Kent had woken up and was becoming sensational.
He had a strong rest of his season, 9 assists 6 goals, and all the hype now was about trying to hold onto him. Then-manager Steven Gerrard signed Jordan Jones (well, Mark Allen did) that January in event that Kent couldn’t be secured, because we already knew the price was around £7.5M.
But last minute that following transfer window, we put up the money and hey presto, Rangers signed our second-most expensive player ever.
How will Kent be remembered? Well, right now there’s a lot of bitterness about him, bitterness from the fans and indeed the manager. Beale wanted him, he said no, and now his boss couldn’t kick him away further, ditto the fans who have made him a bit of a target.
In truth, it is very unfair. We demonstrated that despite the lack of Hollywood dribbles, goals and assists this season, Kent’s contribution remained undimmed, and while he did lose his way a bit in the past few months as he looked towards a new club and league, nevertheless to suggest Kent was a waste of money and a bad signing is simply bitter.
This is the guy who, for four years, had a song about him, constantly sung by fans who enjoyed him tearing apart your defence.
He brought players in, created havoc around him and crucially, as Ibrox Noise’s Derek said many times, he raised the level of other Rangers players around him by his sheer intensity – it was in many ways his unseen work that may be his legacy.
He mauled Celtic several times, he even outclassed a world class talent in Jude Bellingham v Dortmund. He’s scored countless huge goals – v Antwerp, v Celtic, v Braga – Kent was a hugely-loved player, but in the last four months, that’s all been forgotten as he, admittedly, did lose a bit of his heart for the club.
It wasn’t helped by ‘that’ miss in Sevilla, where Kemar Roofe put it on a plate for him and he failed to burst the net with it at his mercy. That could have changed everything, and would have – Kent today would have the same statue Gio would have had.
It didn’t work out that way, and in recent times he already knew he was moving on, and that is ok.
No human being is going to put their whole guts into something when they’re no longer going to be part of it – but fans don’t see it like that do they? They see their team, their love, and a player who isn’t giving his all anymore. And it’s binary for them.
We do think Kent will be viewed in future more kindly than he currently is, but his clothing on Wednesday did not help his case much – bit of a faux pas there.
End of the day Ibrox Noise wishes the lad farewell and a good career from here on in. Will he thrive like Patterson or sink like Aribo and Bassey? Time will tell, but it will reflect much better on Rangers if one of our former star players tears it up for his new club rather than flopping like most others do.
He came, he saw, and he mauled Scott Brown. That does for us.