Rangers midfield enforcer John Lundstram is an enigma at the best of times.
The 29 year old Englishman signed for Rangers under former manager Steven Gerrard and it could be argued that he is yet to hit his peak for Rangers as he enters the last year of his contract.
The midfielder’s performances since signing tend to split the Rangers fan base – some want him to start every week as they see him as a key player in the Rangers midfield, whilst others (like myself) think he’s too inconsistent and looks like he’s trying to tow a caravan when it comes to kicking a ball for Rangers.
In my realistic opinion, Rangers would be doing well to get Lundstram off the wage bill in January. I feel he’s too inconsistent and slows our play down in general.
This opinion is beginning to fade with me now though since the appointment of Belgian Phillipe Clement. The Englishman is playing again with purpose, driving forward with the ball, throwing himself into tackles, building his team mates up when needed and in the last few matches has finally looked like a Ranger.
What is this down to?
Rangers manager Clement is a developer on the training pitch and he has obviously had a chat with Lundstram since stepping into the Ibrox hot seat. The midfielder is back playing with a purpose.
More importantly, instruction from a manager who knows how he wants to play and what he wants from his players and Lundstram looks like he is adhering to that with a hungry appetite.
John Lundstram is an inconsistent football player, but in my opinion has not played for a manager at Rangers who has demanded more of him and treated him like a senior professional within the squad ranks.
The former Sheffield United midfielder seems to be relishing the responsibility thrust upon him and has been Clement’s star man in midfield since the Belgian took over.
Lundstram’s ability on the ball is more fluent. When he passes the ball sideways he’s doing it to start attacks now, whereas before he seemed to be just playing keep ball until an opening occurred.
Rangers as a team are trying to take low blocks up a bit higher, enticing opposition defences up the park and they are doing this with players via Rangers defence and midfield driving forward and making forward runs. The midfielder was seen driving into space and passed the ball to Danilo, who assisted Sam Lammers to finish off a spectacular team goal against Dundee last Wednesday.
The combination play from Rangers was evident to see as they moved the ball with a clear plan on how they were going to use it, allowing Lundstram to be at the centre of it driving the team forward on different occasions.
My colleague Steve from the Gallant Few podcast commented on Lundstram:
"“To coin a Beale phrase “the handbrake is off”. He is using his energy and fitness now rather than trying to be Pirlo. The other thing that strikes me is that he takes less touches now, it speeds up our play so much.”"
Inside Ibrox colleague James Black quoted saying:
"“When he does it consistently over months rather than weeks, he won’t be an overpaid dud”."
Inside Ibrox analyst Gary Mulraney said:
"“What he does in matches isn’t understood by some fans. As it’s not eye-catching or spectacular. However, very effective in the holistic system”"
Another member of our team in Jamie Currie said
"“I think much the same as Gary but he’s far better for the team when he plays positive. He often lapsed into sideways passing under Beale but that was also due to the face that there was little movement from those ahead of him”."
The Gallant Few’s own Andrew Stewart said
"“Lundstram as a Ranger has experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows during his time in Glasgow. His resilience to comeback from the red card against Malmo to scoring the goal to send us to a European Final is unbelievable. He has the uncanny ability to be a big game player and be the sheriff in our midfield.”"
These quotes bring together a very mixed opinion towards John Lundstram as a Rangers player. It begs the question; does the midfield enforcer earn a new contract with his new lease of life?
To me, that’s a question for the manager to answer nearer the end of his contact. What needs to be considered is how inconsistent he has been during his time at the club and only now do we appear to be seeing the best version of the Rangers midfielder
After the game on Sunday, Lundstram said playing under new Rangers manager Phillipe Clement was a “breath of fresh air”.
This is clear when looking at Lundstram’s current performances on the pitch, as he has grasped the opportunity to play under the new Gers boss and appears to be hungry for success this season, and he is looking forward instead of back in more ways than one under the gaffer.