Rangers head into the Europa League tie with Bayer Leverkusen tonight out of form.
There’s no escaping the poor and inconsistent run Steven Gerrard’s men have been on, with defensive frailties following them everywhere they go.
A 1-0 win over Ross County wasn’t convincing as they looked to sit back after Ryan Kent’s goal, but it was a victory nonetheless – something that’s become a rarity for the Light Blues in 2020.
They’ve failed to win five of their league matches with individual errors from James Tavernier and Connor Goldson proving to be the main concerns.
One saving grace, however, has been their European journey. Leverkusen will be one of their toughest tests yet and they’ll need a certain Alfredo Morelos firing.
The Colombian has racked up 29 goals this season but remarkably he hasn’t found the back of the net in 2020.
It’s been a tricky period for the striker who once again, hasn’t been shy of controversy. Gerrard granted him leave to go back to Colombia before their clash against Hearts but he didn’t return home in time. As a consequence, he was left out of the matchday squad entirely for that clash.
The last thing the manager needed was his star man going AWOL but their woes may well have been solved before they even appeared in January. During the transfer window they were linked with Burnley’s Matej Vydra.
In fact, the Glasgow Times claimed he was set to seal a loan switch to Ibrox on deadline day. That, of course, did not happen.
Unfortunately for the Gers, they could live to regret not tying up a deal for the tricky forward. In his last four games he’s shown signs of the top class striker he can be, scoring two wonderful strikes for the Clarets in the Premier League.
His average rating in the games he scored in was north of 7, via WhoScored, and his recent form is something Rangers could have done with. Florian Kamberi has looked bright in spells, scoring and assisting in the 2-2 draw with St Johnstone, but he hasn’t really had a consistent chance to prove he can fill in for Morelos.
With that in mind, Vydra would have added an immense set of talents to Rangers’ forward line, something that would have been absolutely vital with their star man considerably out of form.
The Czech Republic international hasn’t been prolific for Burnley, scoring just four times since signing, but his Championship record speaks for itself – he’s found the net on 65 occasions in 187 matches.
A quick look across the city provides prior evidence of poachers thriving in England before moving to Scotland. Gary Hooper netted 49 in 90 for Scunthorpe before bagging 82 in 138 for Rangers’ Old Firm rivals.
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Closer to home, Kenny Miller is a fine example. The Scot scored 58 goals for Wolves and Derby before his second spell at Rangers proved fruitful, bagging 53 strikes.
Vydra, who is valued at £4.5m, does differ but it’s clear proof of how players who have thrived in England’s Championship can prove devastating in Scotland.
It might be a stretch to suggest he’d have significantly lessened the gap between Rangers and Celtic, but he would have proven beneficial given Morelos’ poor record this calendar year. They should be regretting their inability to tie up a deal.
In other Gers news, their James Tavernier successor should be staring them in the face…