Glasgow Rangers somewhat eased the pressure on manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst with a vital victory over Hearts on Wednesday evening, with Malik Tillman’s second-half strike sealing all three points for the home side at Ibrox.
The scrutiny on the Dutchman’s position has become intense of late following the shock weekend defeat to St Johnstone – as well as the Old Firm outfit’s miserable European form – with yesterday’s result having been crucial to stopping the recent rot.
One man who particularly impressed in that hard-fought triumph was substitute, Scott Arfield, with the veteran playmaker having proven his worth to his manager with an impactful display off the bench in the second period.
The former Canada international – who netted the club’s first Champions League goal in over a decade against Liverpool last month – has made just ten starts from his 22 appearances in all competitions this season, although the 34-year-old showcased just why he should assume a more prominent role moving forward.
The 19-cap menace was introduced in place of James Sands at the break and quickly set about attempting to rally his teammates into action, with The Athletic’s Jordan Campbell notably stating: “Scott Arfield has added a lot of personality to the team since coming on. Cajoling teammates, pressing with intensity, trying to link things. Leadership has been one of the biggest misses with likes of Goldson & Jack absent.”
In a squad full of young talent – including the likes of Leon King, Rabbi Matondo and the aforementioned Sands – it is seemingly vital to have such an experienced asset at Van Bronckhorst’s disposal, with the Glasgow side in need of leaders amid this current tough spell.
Arfield’s impact was also lauded by Rangers Review’s Derek Clark, with the journalist writing that the ageing gem ‘added a bit more intensity and energy. He was visibly demanding more from his teammates and it paid off with a much-needed win’.
Although the former Burnley man’s actual on-the-ball role was somewhat limited – making just 26 touches in his 45-minute outing – his calming presence seemingly had the desired effect, having notably completed 17 of his 20 passes and laid on one key pass.
Amid the current doom and gloom, Arfield’s experience could well be what is needed to help steady the ship for the Scottish giants, with the Livingston-born ace having been a great servant to the club over the years, with 39 goals and 19 assists in 212 games in all competitions.
With Rangers’ final game prior to the World Cup break to come away to St Mirren this weekend, having the midfielder in the side from the start could well be key for Van Bronckhorst.