It’s seems hard to believe that it has been just over a year since John Lundstram single handily helped generated a resurgence in popularity for Belinda Carlisle.
The Englishman had just began to assert him as a pivotal himself as the driving force of the Rangers midfield following a slow start to life at Ibrox after his move north from Sheffield United in 2021.
His form had become such a big factor in the side’s run to the Europa League final, that the support had created a song for the Scouser to the tune of Carlisle’s Heaven Is A Place On Earth, in which they proclaimed Lundstum to be ‘the best of earth.’
Now, just one day following Rangers embarrassing start to the 2023/24 Scottish Premiership season where the side lost 1-0 to Kilmarnock, and so many of the same fans that declared him ‘the silky Scouser who was just what they needed’ where desperate to see him shown the door.
It isn’t the first time either, as his form last season failed to live up to the high standards he’d set just months earlier.
So the question is a simple one: what has happened to Lundstram and why does he no longer fit the bill?
When it came to last season, you could make an argument that he was fitting off an injury to help the team at the time when a trip to the treatment table was like doing your weekly shop at Tesco.
His ability to bust a gut to get to a 50/50 was now absent, and it turned a midfield who could boss games for 360 minutes a week into one who could be carved open like a knife through butter.
But with a pre-season under his belt under Michael Beale, Lundstram certainly looks as fit as he once 18 months ago.
The more worrying issue with him though is one that has bleed through from the previous campaign, right into pre-season and that horror show at Rugby Park, a match I should add he was far from the worst performer in.
It’s the manner in which he plays when Rangers are in possession. Too often, he is guilty of slowing down the play which fits right into the hands of Scottish opposition, and choosing the square pass as opposed to taking a risk and trying to drill a ball through the channels.
As a club, we’ve brought in 11 players in six months. The majority of these possess a higher level of technical ability than those before them. A great example would be John Lundstram’s partner in midfield on Saturday Nico Raskin, who seemed to be the only one willing to try and give his forwards something to work with.
If Beale wants this time to be more dynamic and fluid, then he needs players who are able to get the ball to his new £15m attack in areas where they can cause problems. Be it Todd Cantwell’s creative spark, or new boy Jose Cifuentes box-to-box drive.
Lundstram’s skillset worked perfectly for how Giovanni Van Bronckhorst set up his team to nullify the opposition, to variating levels of success.
But if Beale is looking to create a new, dominating, new octane attacking outlook to Rangers with his refreshed squad, then he’s got to stop looking to players from that past style over others.
We’ve spoken before in a similar way before around Borna Barisic, and Lundstram is in the same camp.
Speaking as one of his biggest defenders last year, we’ve got to look away from players like him if we want to make our team a feared one for opposition defence in the same way Ange Postecoglous did so well, unfortunately, in recent seasons for Celtic.