Rangers haven't wasted any time conducting their business in the transfer window. Nikola Katic and…
To say Rangers have been busy in this transfer window would be like saying Mark Lawrenson has a slightly negative outlook on life; an understatement. However, for all the comings and goings at Ibrox, there’s one area of Steven Gerrard’s squad that desperately needs strengthening and that’s in attack.
We’ve seen Gerrard completely rebuild his defence with Nikola Katic and Connor Goldson. Bruno Alves looks to be on the way out and there are even rumours that Rangers want to bring in another central defensive option in Millwall’s Jake Cooper. Jon Flanagan was also signed as competition for James Tavernier and Allan McGregor looks to be Gerrard’s number one choice in between the sticks.
Oh and there’s more, Jamie Murphy signed on a permanent deal and the Ibrox club also secured the services of Scott Arfield and Ovie Ejaria, the latter being on a season-long loan. All of these signings are undoubtedly reassuring for Rangers fans given how badly their squad needed to be overhauled. However, their side still looks very light up front.
Rangers scored more goals than anybody else in the Premiership last term. They may have capitulated under Graeme Murty, but for a brief spell they were unplayable and were free-scoring. Their overall goal tally of 76 is impressive, but it would only take a couple of Rangers players to be absent for them to be struggling in front of goal.
Alfredo Morelos and Josh Windass were Rangers’ top two scorers last season, but both have been linked with moves away from Ibrox. Whereas Morelos’ potential move to Fenerbahce appears like paper talk, it seems more likely that Windass could leave given he has a release clause in his contract. Moreover, Premier League newcomers Cardiff City have already expressed an interest in the winger. That aside were Rangers to lose one or both of these players then they’d be in a difficult situation indeed.
The graph above tells us two things. How vital Morelos and Windass are to Rangers’ overall goal tally, but also that they were fortunate to have a right-back in James Tavernier who chipped in with eight goals. Another startling fact is that Morelos is the only out-and-out striker that made it into Rangers’ top ten scorers last season. Jason Cummings only found the back of the net twice in the Premiership and Eduardo Herrera scored just once.
The bottom line here is there’s no guarantee Windass will be at the club next season. And even if he is, there’s no guarantee he’ll be as prolific. After all, he exceeded expectations with his goal tally this term given that he’s a winger or a number 10, not a striker. Moreover, we still don’t really know where Windass will play in this Gerrard team. He was significantly more effective in front of goal when playing just behind the striker rather than on the wing. However, Gerrard may choose a formation that doesn’t lend itself to that sort of set up.
Tavernier had a remarkable season and struck up a formidable partnership with Daniel Candeias down the right. They were the Rangers attacking axis that caused opposition teams a plethora of problems. Whilst Tavernier’s goal tally is impressive, nobody can expect a right-back to score eight goals and finish as third top scorer every season; even someone as attack-minded as the Englishman. Simply put, Rangers need another striker who can share the burden. It also emphasises how they cannot afford to lose Morelos be it through injury or him moving to another club.
The other pertinent point here is that Rangers need back up for Morelos. Herrera, despite his protestations, will be leaving Ibrox. It also doesn’t look like Cummings will be returning to Govan any time soon. In all honesty, the former Hibs player was a huge disappointment during his loan spell. You could argue it was the system he played in or that he wasn’t given enough time, but he simply didn’t look up to scratch.
So that leaves us with the young Columbian who enjoyed a stellar debut season for Rangers. He hit the ground the running, showed he can find the back of the net but is also up for a fight and is a significant presence in the final third for Rangers. That said, many will criticise him for ‘that miss’ against Celtic which is pretty unfair. He’s vital to this Rangers team and at 21-years-old will only get better.
There’s absolutely no argument that he was one of Rangers’ most important players. Furthermore, he is their only real striking option at this moment in time. While he’s proven himself reliable and effective at Premiership level, he needs competition. Not only that, Rangers need options if they want to play more than one player up front. If Morelos got injured today then Rangers would be without a recognised striker – sorry I refuse to count Herrera. Which when you think about how many centre-midfielders they have is absolutely mad.
Rangers constantly compare themselves to Celtic and vice versa. Well in this instance when you compare frontlines, Celtic have Leigh Griffiths, Moussa Dembele and Odsonne Edouard. If Rangers are hoping to win trophies this year, advance in Europe and close the gap on Celtic then a striker now must be the priority for Gerrard and co.
You may think this article is all doom and gloom, but it’s really not meant to be. After all, it does look like Rangers will sign a striker. They’ve been strongly linked with Roma forward Umar Sadiq who had a decent loan spell at NEC Breda in Holland last season.
Moreover, in Jamie Murphy, they also have a player who can find the back of the net. Sure he’s more of a winger, but Murphy was impressive during his loan spell at Ibrox last season and can help chip in with goals. The same can be said about Scott Arfield, Rangers have perhaps missed a midfielder who can pop up in pockets space and find the back of the net. Graham Dorrans was touted as being that player but never really lived up to expectations last campaign.
In essence, Rangers have a number of players that can score goals. The fact these goals are spread throughout their team is a positive as not too much pressure is placed at the feet of one person. That said, Gerrard needs a new striker or two as back-up and competition for Morelos. It would also give him options as at the moment Rangers only have one recognised forward. The other main point to make is that keeping Morelos at the club is just as important as bringing in new forwards.