Cedric Itten scored his 4th league goal, off the bench against Motherwell yesterday, but could he be in line to feature for Rangers more often?
I saw a clickbait article on the usual Rangers sources today, “promising striker set to leave Ibrox!” My heart stopped, could it be Cedric Itten, Kemar Roofe, Jermain Defoe or Alfredo Morelos? Well, I guess Morelos wouldn’t be a shock, seeing as he’s been rumoured to be leaving almost as long as he’s been here.
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I should really know better, you know. These articles intentionally don’t mention specifics in the titles in a low effort attempt to harvest your clicks and mine. Yet after yesterday’s point rescued courtesy of perennial super sub Itten, I had to wonder if perhaps there was a connection. In the end, of course, it was academy lad Dapo Mebude and the only reason the article assumed he’s “set to leave” is that no extension to his contract has been announced yet. Yep, I was duped.
Nonetheless, the thought lingered a bit afterwards – could Itten be at risk of moving on? The issue is, plainly, he hasn’t been getting the minutes, even when he’s done very little to deserve being sidelined. He’s started a mere two games in the Premiership this season and, although he’s featured off the bench in another 13, it’s all added up to a rather mediocre 432 minutes of football. About 5 matches worth, total.
Supposedly he’s ahead, in the pecking order of centre-forwards, of 38 year old Defoe. Yet somehow, Itten has actually started one match less and not seen an awful lot more minutes even outside that. It gets worse.
In actuality, the Gers have been without Roofe, our highest scoring striker and unquestionably first pick, for a few weeks yet Itten has sat and watched Morelos sit deep and not score as the light blues have toiled to pick up points. For an example of how crazy that is, Alfredo has scored only two more goals than Cedric, yet played 916 more minutes – over 10 games! Far be it from me to question Steven Gerrard’s selection methods, especially this year, but yikes!
Ultimately, Itten has done pretty much everything asked of him. He’s scoring goals when the opportunity arises and winning us points. He’s not been as revolutionary as Roofe, but he’s definitely done enough, especially after yesterday, to get one or two more starts you’d think. The fact that all his Premiership goals have come against Motherwell make it even more strange that he didn’t start against them yesterday, at least.
At least the penny seems to be dropping a bit with Gerrard, as quoted by the Daily Record;
"“I’m sure Cedric in his quieter times has probably been a bit frustrated with me in terms of opportunities and game time and if he keeps providing like that I can’t ignore him for too long.We have four quality centre-forwards, so it’s impossible to keep them all happy. But I’m really pleased with his cameo performance today. He looked strong, lively and he was a threat. He’s really honest and he’s never passive.”"
Oh boy, at least he acknowledges there’s likely to be some justified frustration there. The lad didn’t sign for Rangers to sit on his tod and watch Alfredo underwhelm. It might be “impossible to keep them all happy”, but sticking with Morelos as the default regardless of his form, or theirs, doesn’t help. If the latter was benched for a game or two it might help him as much as the rest.
In any case, it remains to be seen how Itten reacts and if he’ll get more game time with Rangers as a result. Roofe is returning from injury, but our next match is Ross County and it wouldn’t hurt to ease him in a bit slower as a sub, with Cedric leading the line from the beginning. I can even imagine the clickbait article title now: “you’ll never believe who Rangers are benching for this young star!” – and, you know, I might actually click that one too.