KRIS COMMONS: Supporting cast must lighten the load for Alfredo Morelos if Rangers are to challenge Celtic for Scottish Premiership title
- Rangers need attacking reinforcements if they are to take the title this term
- The pressure resting on Alfredo Morelos’ shoulders could quickly cause burnout
- It seems Rangers boss Steven Gerrard does not trust those on his subs bench
- Martin Boyle has become Hibs’ talisman and he could bring firepower to Rangers
Given that Alfredo Morelos hasn’t scored a league goal for Rangers since Boxing Day last year, Steven Gerrard needs more players to step up to the plate.
Ryan Kent did that to good effect against Aberdeen on Saturday with a really smartly-taken goal and bright performance overall.
To score the winner in a game like that on the opening day of the season should do Kent’s confidence the world of good.
Alfredo Morelos could struggle this season unless Steven Gerrard recruits more forwards
But it was actually some of the players who *didn’t* play at Pittodrie who gave us an insight into Gerrard’s overall confidence – or lack of – in his squad right now.
In a game which was crying out for a bit of pace to hit Aberdeen on the counter in the second half, the likes of Jamie Murphy, Greg Stewart and Brandon Barker were all left twiddling their thumbs on the sidelines.
Under new regulations for this season as voted for by the clubs themselves, managers can now use five subs from an enlarged pool of nine players available to them on the bench.
It was a controversial rule when it was voted through last week – but one which looked like it would be a massive benefit to the likes of Rangers and Celtic.
The Old Firm have bigger and better squads than every other club in the country, so the chance to utilise as many of those players as possible *should* highlight their strength in depth.
It *should* be a blessing. Yet, instead, there was a very clear reluctance from Gerrard on Saturday to throw on some of the players he had available on the bench.
It would appear the Rangers boss does not trust the fringe players on the bench
Listen, it’s too early to say that there’s a lack of faith in these players after just one game – but he definitely needs to get his support cast up to speed.
You need to have game-changers who can come on and alter the flow of a match. That difference in raw firepower is one of the key things that separates the two Old Firm clubs just now.
Celtic had the game wrapped up against Hamilton yesterday – but you still had Patryk Klimala coming off the bench and busting a gut to score their fifth goal with a really clever finish.
I wrote in this column a couple of weeks ago about the decision that Gerrard had on his hands regarding these fringe players heading into the new season.
He’s had close to £25million in transfer fees made available to him to plough into the squad since taking the job in the summer of 2018.
He brought the likes of Barker, Stewart and Jordan Jones to the club. If there’s a lack of firepower in this Rangers squad, then whose fault is that?
Ryan Kent played his part by surging forward to score the winning goal against Aberdeen
I think we can safely assume that Jones won’t be there for much longer. There’s probably more chance of me getting a game on the wing for Rangers this season than him.
As for the likes of Barker, Murphy and Stewart, Gerrard needs to get them up to speed sharpish or, if he doesn’t fancy them, move them on and free up a wage.
Rangers cannot afford to carry any passengers this season. Jersey-fillers simply won’t cut it. Every single player needs to contribute and provide value.
Aberdeen were dreadful on the day. Yes, they were without their main striker Sam Cosgrove, but the fact they failed to muster a single shot on target says it all.
There were a couple of Aberdeen fans who actually hired a cherry-picker to watch the game from outside the stadium.
Frankly, Allan McGregor could have joined them and Rangers would have fared no worse. It was as easy a 1-0 win as you’re likely to see.
But, having said that, 1-0 is a scoreline laced with inherent danger. Gerrard and Rangers have seen that movie plenty of times before.
Gerrard was criticised by some supporters last season for being too passive on the touchline
They’ve dominated plenty of games over the past couple of seasons without ever killing off the opposition… only to then concede a cheap goal and drop points.
Gerrard’s ability to change a game from the touchline was something which came under criticism at times last season.
There was a feeling among fans that he was too passive at times and failed to influence any meaningful change in games.
That could have been something which better teams than Aberdeen could have exposed on Saturday.
Gerrard spoke on numerous occasions last year about his team needing to show more of a ruthless killer instinct, so, in some ways, not much has changed.
As for Morelos, he had a solid enough game. He dropped quite deep at times, linked up the play, and laid on a nice assist for Kent’s goal.
If the Colombian striker does end up leaving, however, then it’s vital Gerrard reinvests the cash in some genuine game changers.
Having played with Martin Boyle for a few months during my time at Hibs, I can vouch first-hand about just what a talented boy he is.
I promise you, he’s absolutely greased lightning when he’s in full flow. In terms of raw pace, he’s undoubtedly one of the quickest players in the country.
But he’s also added a bit more subtlety and end-product to his game over the past couple of years. He’s a much more complete player nowadays.
Boyle is equally at home on the wing or through the middle as a striker, so the versatility he offers is another huge positive for any potential suitors.
Hibernian should meke the most of talisman Martin Boyle before bigger clubs come calling
Having scored both goals in Hibs’ 2-1 victory over Kilmarnock at the weekend, it was a welcome return to form for a man who has suffered from some horrible injury problems.
My advice to Hibs fans would be quite simple. Enjoy him while you can.
Given that he’s only got a year left to run on his contract, bigger clubs are bound to be looking at him.
I know for a fact that Neil Lennon rates him highly and thoroughly enjoyed working with him during their time together at Easter Road.
I also don’t see why the likes of Rangers shouldn’t at least have a look at him and explore the possibility of making an offer.
With just a year left on his contract, Boyle wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Especially not with the financial problems Hibs are facing.
He could be available at a knockdown price. I reckon a bid of around £250k would be enough to at least ask the question of Hibs.
With the transfer window open until October, Boyle will be a wanted man if he continues the red-hot form he showed against Killie on the opening day.
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