If there’s one thing Ibrox Noise has been preaching for quite a few weeks, it’s the ‘Premier League Fallacy’.
So, basically if we look back to 2018 and Steven Gerrard’s arrival, the three game-changing signings the former boss made in the summer of his first season till the following summer were the acquisitions of Scott Arfield, Allan McGregor, and Steven Davis.
These three took Rangers up a huge level, and despite Davis’ slightly slow start to his second spell at Ibrox, he evolved into a true great of the club and peaked career-wise with the Famous during that later time with us.
Arfield and McGregor were standouts from the start.
Now, there’s a major condition here – these three were ALL experienced Premier League players at this point – McGregor had over 50 outings for Hull, Davis was well over 300 for Southampton, and Arfield had 86.
These were top players who not only were Rangers fans themselves, but had plenty of experience of England’s top flight and had bossed it at that level. These were absolutely marquee additions.
And that is why they had impact at Ibrox.
It’s the same with Todd Cantwell – he has around 50 appearances in the Premier League, with new signing Jack Butland also approaching 100 – top level players with top level experience.
So when we see the likes of Dujon Sterling and Kieran Dowell with a combined total of a modest 20 PL outings (all Dowell’s, incidentally) arriving and a further Championship star like Jonathan Panzo who hasn’t played at the top level in Britain being mooted, even though he was with a PL club, as Sterling was, it makes us a bit concerned.
See, the issue we have is not that these guys are bad players – it’s that the pressure of Rangers is very similar to the demands of the Premier League. The Championship, by comparison, has nowhere near the same demands.
Look at how Joe Aribo, who looked like he was going to storm the Premier League going by some of his Rangers performances, has absolutely sunk without trace and is now in the Championship where, sadly, he probably belongs.
And this is the problem – if you can’t cope with the Premier League, or haven’t made it to that level, it suggests that Rangers are taking a gamble that you can cope with the win at all costs mentality at Ibrox in front of 50,000 fans.
Jack Butland is 100% ready for it, he can cope easily and he’ll be a storming goalie for Rangers – Cantwell already had the CV even if, at the time, he was in the Championship. How many Championship players have confirmed market values of £30M?
But Dowell, Sterling and now maybe Panzo are not experienced with the pressure of the PL, and the demands it has compared with other ‘lesser’ leagues, whereas Scotty, Davo and McGregor certainly were.
In simple terms, playing for Rangers (and Celtic) is comparable with the pressure in the Premier League – albeit the standard of our league, naturally, is infinitely lower.
It’s why Premier League players usually (not always, eh Joey?) stroll it in Scotland, while Rangers players who do well at Ibrox don’t always thrive down south. Sadly for Joe.
And it’s why we’re a little concerned about some of the ‘low level’ players we’re bringing in – it’s not about how good they actually are, it’s about coping mentally with what Rangers are all about.
Todd can, Jack will. We’re just not as sure about some of the others.