More than once we’ve had Rangers fans announce proudly to us that Fabio Silva is NOT a 9. Despite Philippe Clement describe him as a striker, despite that being his career-long apparent position, the supporters in question all label him as a 10.
As not a natural goalscorer at all, as more of a playmaker.
And while it was ‘only Livingston’ Silva had by far his best performance in the shirt at Ibrox on Saturday in the supposed 9 position. But showing plenty of evidence the fans in question are absolutely right.
Was he excellent? Outstanding? Not quite, but he showed the first real sign to fans that he can add something.
That backheel touch for Matondo in the first half was immense, showing awareness and skill, linking up brilliantly, and he showed fight too, at one point being decked but still getting his pass away.
The point was while he did get his goal, which he deserved, Silva appeared a lot less of a 9 and more of the ‘Ronaldo’ forward which the Portuguese legend and his arch-nemesis Messi created.
That is, the all-round forward that does a bit of everything – scoring, creating, running, supporting – the pure striker of Ally McCoist is a lot less common these days, and Silva is nothing like a 9 of that nature.
He certainly isn’t the Daniel Cousin-type we posited many weeks ago. The scouting reports and data we had on that were not reflective of him in the way we now see him.
He’s not a big aerial target man, he lost out on all 4 of his aerial duels, which is well short of a big strong dominator in the air. His accuracy in the pass was also average – usually strikers and forwards’ passing isn’t the best because defenders are breathing down their necks, admittedly, but at 63% he was barely any better than Sima.
A strong target man is able to brush off defenders easily and pass accurately to supporting players. Silva can’t do that so well.
So we can clearly count the ‘Daniel Cousin’ model out.
But what we saw was definitely progress.
He won 3 of his 6 ground duels, which is solid – he has a bit of fight, he has an improving touch, and he offered a couple of key passes as well.
He showed absolutely the first sign that he might have something about him.
That said, he has a lot more to do against much tougher opponents than bottom-side Livingston before he convinces the majority he’s truly good enough for Rangers.
Time will tell.