What now for Todd Cantwell at Rangers?

What now for Todd Cantwell at Rangers?
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 30: Todd Cantwell of Rangers is substituted during the UEFA Europa League match between Rangers FC and Aris Limassol FC at Ibrox Stadium on November 30, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

There’s no doubt that Ross McCausland’s performance from the 35th minute was a highlight of Rangers’ otherwise overall poor display.

Naturally, he should have been on from the start, and impressed everyone not just with his very well taken goal but his industry, running, pace and energy. We already know what we have on our hands in the Northern Ireland international whose rise from relative obscurity to arguable starter at Ibrox is astronomical.

But what of Todd Cantwell?

So, we have to lay out the caveats and conditions here, frame the picture properly.

Todd Cantwell has never played as a RW prior to arriving at Ibrox – it’s not his position. He’s a 10, pure and simple. Yes, he can play either side of midfield as well, but Cantwell is simply not a right winger and doesn’t have the game for it.

It was ridiculously unfair of Philippe Clement to not only keep playing him there, but to blame him for not being a winger when… well, he isn’t one. Ask John Souttar to play in midfield and his defensive instincts will kick in. Ask Cantwell to play as a RW and his cutting in and attacking instincts through the middle will be his mindset.

As such, Clement realised quickly his own duff call had fallen flat, but instead of admitting he had made the wrong selection, outright blamed Cantwell for not following instructions. Instead of switching him centre, taking off Lammers (who was abysmal) and putting McCausland on that way, instead he removed the wrong guy. And blamed him.

So where does it leave things?

Uneasy, that’s where. Philippe Clement has been praised for his man management and yet our understanding is he’s not spoken to many if any individual players. John Lundstram has already confirmed he’s never had a one to one with the manager. This is very Gio with Niko 18 months ago, who just ignored individuals like the Croat and made no attempt to engage.

Now that doesn’t really matter, as long as the team wins, but regardless Cantwell is a player who does need an arm around him, steering him a little. He loses focus, and concentration, and the last thing a manager should do is publicly flog him and scapegoat him for it. That’s what Clement did. He’s not managing Cantwell particularly well and we’re seeing the ex-Norwich man decline quite dramatically, not that he was having a good season under Beale either, admittedly.

But he’s not benefited an iota from Clement.

What the boss has done with Clement is made a rod for his own back here. He’s admonished Cantwell publicly, meaning he now creates a situation where there didn’t need to be one. He’s made controversy, doubly so – by hooking him so early, having selected him in the wrong slot again, then adding to it by blaming the player post-match for Clement’s error, frankly.

We did admit a couple of weeks ago that McCausland was now surely the starter, but of course he’s been dropped since then, which only adds further complication.

So what now for Cantwell?

We’re genuinely not sure – he’s not totally innocent here, incidentally. His online rubbish with Mutton has clearly created headlines where none were needed, and he let his cult hero stuff from last season go to his head. He’s been a tenth of the player he was when we all loved him so much last campaign.

But there is still clearly a talent in there, and while a few weeks ago we’d have easily said Clement was the right man to steer him, the last 24 hours proves he isn’t. And it’s done some damage.

It’s a bit of a mess, frankly, and it wasn’t needed.

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