The mystery of Danilo is absolutely confusing, and in some places enraging Rangers supporters, given the Brazilian’s rather poor start to life at Ibrox following such a big move from Feyenoord made to such fanfare.
Danilo is literally Rangers’ third-most expensive signing of all time, and has been, thus far, an incredibly underwhelming addition to the roster.
There’s some clickbait media talking today about his putting in the ‘hard yards’ during the international break, working on his fitness et al, but there’s no denying 3 starts in his entire Rangers career is not what fans expected when a major hype signature like he finally touched down in Govan.
So what’s going on here?
Indeed, a few puzzled Rangers-minded columnists have dedicated some inches to discuss the topic, and they are rather perplexed.
Why is Danilo, a mega £6M signing from Feyenoord, struggling so much at Rangers and currently only a fringe player at best?
We think a lot of it has to do with how Michael Beale plays. Or more to the point, doesn’t.
Michael Beale previously alluded to an Alfredo Morelos-system, whereby one major focal point of the attack, the Colombian, was flanked by two wide men and a playmaker (Kent, Sakala, and Cantwell).
This was used as a narrative for why Antonio Colak didn’t fit in and Beale didn’t favour him.
When Morelos decided he was moving on, Beale’s narrative had to change. The problem is he had to start again.
Remember, Michael Beale didn’t crack the Scottish Premiership under Steven Gerrard for over two years – not till he lucked out with a system that worked for the players Rangers had back then, and Gerrard made a good call in choosing it.
So Beale has previous for taking a significant amount of time.
But Morelos left – and that system was in the dustbin. And it’s our contention that Beale has been trying to replace both him and the system since.
He doesn’t play the same system he did last season – as we’ve pointed out many times, he’s dumped all the wingers and there’s no major width on either side. We’ll get to Matondo in a moment.
And he’s not playing with the same attacking focal point any more either – he doesn’t have a striker coming deep in the same way – Dessers is much higher up, and Lammers, while very capable of coming deeper, is a player without direction in his career any more.
Danilo? He was signed as another option, a player to ‘offer something different’ because he too is not Morelos.
Which basically means Michael Beale absolutely does not know what system he wants to use, what system is best, or how to make what players he signed work.
As we mentioned there is Wales’ Rabbi Matondo, but he’s not being used well as a starter – he makes the best impact when coming on, a fresh quick pair of legs able to do damage. From the start he gets rather marked out.
As for Danilo, he is also not being helped by being played as a left winger some of the time – the guy fundamentally is a centre forward, a 10, he’s not really a pure striker, a 9.
So a Beale mistake? Using Dessers as his ‘target man’ and not Danilo. And yet, do we even know for sure Danilo can play the ‘Morelos’ role?
This is the mess Beale’s made up front. He doesn’t know who can do what, he clearly didn’t scout these guys hard enough, or he took on too much himself and made big errors in judgement. Us fans can’t see any coherence here and it’s clear that the boss can’t either.
Either way, this international break is absolutely critical for the manager.
He’s screwed up preseason – we’ll be honest about that. He made a dog’s dinner of it and didn’t use it well at all.
Can he use these two weeks to find something that works?
We don’t know. But his job could rest on it.