Last season’s runners-up Glasgow Rangers have been backed to do one better this season, with club icon Ally McCoist tipping Steven Gerrard to steer his side to victory this time around.
However, it was a frustrating afternoon for Rangers against Motherwell after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Graham Alexander’s side at Fir Park on Sunday afternoon.
Despite this, Gerrard’s side still sit at the top of the Scottish Premiership far ahead of Celtic, although their arch rivals have played three games fewer with their fixture against Aberdeen postponed twice due to the pandemic.
Rangers were the more dominant of the two sides on Sunday, firing off 16 shots, five of which were on target, and winning ten corners as they encamped themselves in the opposition half, in particular in the second half, as per SofaScore.
Despite their overall control, the Gers got off to a sluggish start, which was compounded by the hapless performance of Leon Balogun. It was an afternoon to forget for the usually ever-so reliable performer, who endured a torrid time at Fir Park, as his errors in the lead-up to Devante Cole’s opener set the tone for the rest of his afternoon.
Gerrard’s frustrations grew as the game dragged on and he hauled Ianis Hagi off shortly after half-time, replacing the young Romanian with Cedric Itten upfront. Itten did manage pull the Light Blues level with a well-timed header in the second half but it was Balogun’s defensive struggles that will have left Gerrard seething.
Balogun has been a colossus at the back for Gerrard’s side this season, including picking up his first assist for the club against Aberdeen. But the Nigerian centre-back, who earns around £12,500-per-week at Ibrox, was a total liability today. It’s fair to say that he gifted Well their goal after he was caught napping inside the box as Cole opened the scoring in the first half.
The 32-year-old centre-half completed a solitary tackle in the entire 90′ minutes – one fewer than Hagi himself – and was run ragged by Well’s wingers all afternoon. If that wasn’t bad enough, he failed to block a single shot and made just one clearance, earning himself a low SofaScore rating of 6.8 for his efforts – the joint third-lowest out of all of his teammates.
Balogun also took just 74 touches of the ball – a tally that Connor Goldson himself bettered by more than 30 – and he failed to offer much in terms of building play from the back as he didn’t register a single cross or key pass.
Rangers have come to rely on Balogun at the back in recent months but this was an afternoon for him to forget at Fir Park as he was dragged out of position throughout and he switched off at a key moment in the game.
He’s perhaps fortunate he wasn’t replaced by Filip Helander, who remained an unused substitute as Gerrard resorted to replacing Hagi with Itten instead.
AND in other news, Rangers simply can’t afford to lose Alfredo Morelos amid Bayern Munich interest…