Rangers succumbed to a third successive defeat in all competitions at home to Napoli on Wednesday evening, with Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side having endured a dismal start to their Champions League campaign.
Unlike the gruelling loss to Eredivisie giants Ajax last week – and the Old Firm dubbing before that – however, the Gers can count themselves unfortunate to have got nothing out of the game at Ibrox, having impressed against the Serie A outfit on the night.
The evening had ultimately turned following the dismissal of young James Sands just after the break, with the Italian visitors going on to net three times late on against their ten-man hosts to secure a 3-0 victory.
That scoreline could well have been even worse had it not been for the goalkeeping heroics of Allan McGregor, with the 40-year-old making a fine return to action having been recalled as a result of the injury to compatriot, Jon McLaughlin.
With the latter man having been the first choice in between the sticks so far this term, McGregor has largely been reduced to a viewing brief in the early weeks of the season, with his only other outing having come in the League Cup triumph over Queen of the South.
Despite that lack of game time, the veteran ace – who signed a new one-year deal at the club at the end of last season – showed little sign of rust to produce a typically brilliant display against Luciano Spalletti’s side.
Ever the man for the big occasion, the one-time Besiktas man notably saved Piotr Zielinski’s second-half penalty following Sands’ infringement, before again denying the Poland international just moments later as the spot-kick was forced to be re-taken.
The Gers’ keeper then almost came close to saving a third penalty of the night as Matteo Politano’s effort only just evaded his grasp, with it having been a truly “ridiculous” display from the former Scotland international, in the words of journalist Josh Bunting.
Such a performance has potentially reminded Van Bronckhorst of just what a “world-class” talent he has on his hands – as previously described by former boss Steven Gerrard – with the 42-cap gem perhaps deserving of a recall to the starting lineup on a permanent basis.
While teammate McLaughlin kept his place in Amsterdam last week despite a below-par performance in the loss to Celtic, it would certainly be wise to keep the 34-year-old on the bench when he does return from his recent absence, with McGregor deserving of an extended run back in the side.
It would seemingly be something of a waste to have arguably the club’s “best ever goalkeeper” watching on week after week – as described by pundit Tam McManus – with the Scottish Premiership side needing to maximise his talents in what is left of his lengthy playing career.