Rangers boss and midfielder Steven Gerrard and Ryan Kent picked up Manager and Player of the Month awards for August respectively. Here’s hoping for many more.
I’m aware that there are certain charms to the International Break, even if watching Scotland play ranks below having a root canal filling and giving yourself a swirly on the list of Saturday evening activities. You get to see more of players you wouldn’t normally spend the time watching, assuming you don’t just pretend that no Rangers equals no football and watch other stuff instead. It’s not great, but it’s something, I suppose.
With that, I am thrilled to say this long, harsh, barren fortnight of almost nothing interesting happening has come to a screeching halt. With that, of course, we have to take the bad news along with the good, it’s all part of the package, right?
We learned today in Steven Gerrard’s pre-match press conference, ahead of tomorrow’s game against Dundee, that Joe Aribo – who we were panicking about only yesterday – is indeed injured and will indeed be out for an extended time. That’s the bad, and it’s definitely bad. But the good news is that despite a continued effort by the League to downplay any and every achievement Rangers ever manage, they couldn’t deny coughing up Manager of the Month and Player of the Month awards to Gerrard and Ryan Kent respectively.
I mean, it was a little bit obvious I suppose. Rangers sit on the top of the table with 16 points out of a possible 18, boasting that mind blowing Goals Allowed: 0 statistic. For all the complaints about the Gers not scoring as much as they could, and should, we still have the most Goals For at 11 as well. That’s where Kent comes in.
Ryan has been the most important player for us so far this season, and arguably the best player in the League at that. You can, and I would, make an argument for Borna Barisic being up there, but Kent is 23 and is really now breaking through and catching attention from all corners. The attacking midfielder has 3 goals to his name in all 6 games until now, the most of any player in the Premiership, and makes an average of 2 key passes leading to clear goal scoring opportunities per game. He’s also looked the hungriest, attempting on average over 4 shots per game, the most in the team by a measure.
The stats don’t lie and the proof of the pudding came in the form of heavy interest from newly promoted Leeds United only a week or two ago. Offers came in north of £17million, a massive amount for any Scottish club, in transfer fees and potentially £50k per week in wages to coax the lad from Ibrox. Suffice it to say, Rangers want, indeed need, to keep him and it certainly sounds like he’s in no mood to leave either.
In any case, fair do’s, Kent fully deserves the plaudits for an exceptional August. Stevie G all the more so. He has taken the big blue glass canon and turned it into a literal tank. Keeping clean sheets is never easy. Keeping 6 in a row in your first 6 games is almost unthinkable, that’s why it’s a record. A lot of credit for making us this strong at the back goes to Gerrard, there’s no doubt. Can you have imagined we’d be in this situation under Caixinha?
It’s been almost a year since Rangers last scooped a “of the Month” award – Alfredo Morelos and Gerrard getting player and manager back in September 2019 and Gerrard getting manager again in December – so let’s enjoy it while it lasts. It was a bit obvious after all we’d get all the acclaim, the League doesn’t hand out “kicked out of Europe by Hungarian team” of the month, or “had player break lockdown during a global pandemic” of the month awards. It’s still nice though.
With the real football starting again, it’s important that the Gers stay on top of the game. A good result against Dundee, hammered by Kilmarnock last time out, would be the expected first step on that, but no complacency please. Defensive strength and a goal difference enhancing scoreline is more my cup of tea. Hopefully today’s awards are the first of many, on the road to the 55.