Now that we know for sure that Graeme Murty will be sticking around as Rangers…
Rangers haven’t just strengthened their squad this January, they’ve completely rebuilt it. The revamp project continued as Greg Docherty signed on the dotted line to join his boyhood club.
The 21-year-old midfielder from Hamilton becomes Graeme Murty’s sixth signing in the January window – a window that has seen the caretaker boss build a new spine to his Rangers side.
Docherty has impressed at Hamilton this season and many of the Ibrox faithful are excited at the prospect of the youngster pulling on a light blue jersey. There’s no doubt this is a move which could be beneficial for both club and player.
That said, does Docherty’s arrival finally spell the end for a number of players at Rangers? We looked at who the 21-year-old might replace and delved into the numbers to find out what he’ll bring to Murty’s side.
Simply put, Docherty will bring another dimension to Rangers. The Ibrox side’s key playmakers have been their wide men; namely James Tavernier and Daniel Candeias. They rely heavily on chances being created from here and it’s no surprise that both have the most assists in the Premiership this season (6).
Docherty is a player that could bring a bit more consistency into the centre of Rangers’ midfield. He has the ability to be creative and create chances. The 21-year-old is effective at dribbling and at turning defence into attack. This is something Rangers have missed at the heart of their midfield so far this season.
The graph above highlights just how effective Docherty is at carrying the ball. He’s performed 50 dribbles in the Premiership so far this season. None of the Ibrox club’s central midfielders come even close to that. In fact, no player in Rangers squad has. The closest is Tavernier who has completed 45 dribbles.
What’s even more impressive is his success rate. Sure, on the face of it he’s behind Niko Kranjcar, Ryan Jack and Jason Holt, but in reality he’s completed significantly more dribbles than any of them. Moreover, no player who has 50 or more dribbles has a higher success rate than Rangers’ new signing.
We’ll get onto his goals and assists later, but key passes are another stat that allows us to look at Docherty’s attacking credentials. A key pass is one that leads to a teammate having a shot. In other words, a shot assist.
Again Docherty tops the charts. He’s completed eight key passes this season which averages out at 0.37 per game. Jason Holt in fairness has six key passes, but the graph highlights how this is something the central midfielders of Rangers are lacking in.
What’s even more telling is that Docherty has been able to do this for a team who are in the bottom half of the table. Simply put, if he can do this for Hamilton he has the potential to thrive in a Rangers team which will have more possession and where he’ll be surrounded by better players.
The good news for Rangers fans is that their new signing can slot right into this current side. Although Murty abandoned his beloved diamond formation against Aberdeen, this kind of shape would suit Docherty.
Though not traditionally a number ten he could certainly slot into the tip of the diamond. This position would suit Docherty given that he’s a very direct player with an eye for goal.
He could also benefit from Murty’s side’s style of play. Rangers’ heavy reliance on the likes of Tavernier and Candeias to create attacking chances mean there would be plenty of opportunities for the 21-year-old.
He’s the kind of player who can arrive late and make bursting runs into the 18-yard box. Moreover, playing Docherty in this position would also allow Josh Windass to play up top where he’s looks at his best this season.
One of the alternative formations Rangers play is 4-2-3-1. Again this writer doesn’t see any issues with Docherty fitting into this formation. Simply put, he could be useful in one of the three centre midfield positions.
The 21-year-old’s good at winning the ball back and carrying it, but he’s undoubtedly an attacking threat. He said himself that he’s a “powerful runner” and that combined with his attacking intent could make him a significant player in this position.
Docherty provides attacking impetuous and much needed urgency into the heart of the Rangers midfield. Something they could have badly done with during their most recent match against Celtic.
Murty played a 4-5-1, but they lacked something in the middle of the park. Ross McCrorie is a good defensive midfielder and did a solid job. However Kranjcar was a passenger who looked like he was running on quicksand. Similarly, Holt put in a fine performance, but didn’t give Rangers much of an option going forward.
Docherty’s arrival could see many of his current teammates enjoying less game time. Furthermore, it could also spell the end of some of their Rangers careers.
Kranjcar has had a largely forgettable time at Ibrox. The Croatian is well beyond his best and although there have been glimpses of quality he looks past it. The game against Celtic completely passed him by and he offers little to this Rangers team. Docherty’s arrival ultimately pushes him further down the pecking order.
Jason Holt wore the captain’s armband on Wednesday against Aberdeen and performed admirably. He’s been playing well since Murty took over the reigns (again) and Docherty might have to prove he’s a better option in order to nail down a place over the second half of the season.
The other player to consider is Graham Dorrans; the forgotten man of Ibrox. He has a decent scoring and assist record, but he’s now been missing for months.
The graph above shows the goal and assists of Docherty and the players he’s likely to compete with for a starting place.
Docherty has scored three goals this season; the same as Dorrans. The 21-year-old does fall behind Dorrans in goals per 90 minutes. Docherty averages 0.14 whereas his more experienced teammate is 0.33. He does come out on top compared to Holt though who has only scored just once this season.
Docherty, impressively, has more assists than both Dorrans and Holt. That said, when it comes to assists per game he is level with Holt on 0.19 and behind Dorrans (0.22).
However, what’s important to note is that Docherty has managed to score goals and create assists for Hamilton. There’s a strong case to say that his numbers would be even higher were he playing for Rangers like Dorrans and Holt.
In essence, Dorrans has a decent goals and assist record, but Docherty could be running the show before he returns. Similarly, Holt is having a good season, but you can argue Docherty has an attacking element to his game that his teammate doesn’t have.
What’s exciting for Rangers fans is that for the first time in a while they have genuine options in midfield. Docherty is a great bit of business and, if he hits the ground running, will thrive in this Rangers team.