I can think Rangers fans can all agree that things haven’t gone quite to plan at Ibrox for Rabbi Matondo.
Arriving in Glasgow last summer in a £2.5m deal from Schalke, the former Manchester City academy prospect for the support buzzing initially with a scintillating display in a pre-season victory over West Ham 12 months ago.
However, when the competitive action got underway, things didn’t seem to click for the Welsh international.
Initially, it seems as though then manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst didn’t play to strengths, which resulted in a domino effect where his confidence slumped and as a result, so did his form.
Brief glimpses appeared towards the back end of the 2022/23 campaign, but not enough to boost his overall numbers, with just five assists and no goals in 28 appearances.
So when it came to the question of which members of that squad should have been shown the door, Rabbi Matondo was a name high up on several people’s lists.
Even myself, who had defended the winger several times in columns over on The 4th Official Patreon page, wasn’t convinced Rangers was the best place for Matondo.
And after being excluded from the squad for the Champions League qualifiers with Servette, it appeared that the clock was slowly ticking down on his Rangers career.
That was until last weekend though when, having been introduced as a 71st minute sub against Livingston, helped turn the game back into Rangers favour, providing an assist for Kieran Dowell’s goal in that game.
It was a shock as he showed all the attributes from that earlier mentioned West Ham game that got fans so excited in the first place. He was tracking back in a terrier style fashion, as well as picking the ball up from deep and driving at the opposition defence at a frightening pace. Not the mention the fact that his decision making seemed to be much improved, which was something considering in the pre-season match with Hamburg, his final touch in and around the penalty area was way off.
This presents an interesting conundrum now for Michael Beale. Despite investing near £15m on the forward areas this summer, it is clear that the attack still needs that option who can provide a bit of pace and run direct at the defence late in games when tiring, as opposed to relying more on individual skill.
Options in the past have failed to provide any form of consistency, including Rabbi himself and the now departed Fashion Sakala. If Matondo can continue this form over the coming weeks, this could save Beale a bit of his budget which can be invested into sharpening up the defensive area.
On the flip side though, everything we have seen to-date from Rabbi Matondo wouldn’t fill us with any confidence that the Livingston cameo was anything more than an a anomaly.
That in itself would create a problem, as not only could it been having to spend even more on this attack, but would solidify having to find a suitor for Rabbi late on in the window, which could be a tough ask given his reported high wage bill.
With just two weeks left until the window closes, the best case scenario at this point for the club would be if Matondo is able to kick on.
Forwards are confidence players. Get them on a run, and they will deliver for a sustained period of time. If that hopefully happens in this case, then we might get ‘Pre-season Rabbi’ as I affectional dub him, could transition into a competitive environment.