Steven Gerrard’s squad for next season is already beginning to take shape, a cursory glance at those signed up for next season and beyond, plus the new additions, give a good indicator of the subtle changes being made.
The signing of Fashion Sakala poses a few questions. He can play through the middle or as a wide attacker, we’ve heard phrases like “wide nine” from the gaffer and “two number tens” from Michael Beale in the past, and this is where he is most likely to play, so who misses out?
Well, it’s not as simple as that.
For a start, there will be a clearing of the decks. Jordan Jones and Brandon Barker have done well enough on the respective loan moves that we should get fees for them, whilst Greg Stewart is out of contract. All three will be gone.
Cedric Itten has rescued us on a couple of occasions this season and we have seen fleeting glimpses of what he is capable of, if Jermain Defoe and/or Alfredo Morelos leave he is likely to be bumped up the order for a role in the middle in support of Kemar Roofe.
Scott Wright has impressed since arriving in January and he very much appears to be the man capable of giving Ryan Kent the odd day off whilst also adding a different dimension to our attack when there is space behind defences.
This leaves in-demand Ianis Hagi, although a completely different player, it is likely that Sakala will compete for a place alongside Kent and Morelos, or Kent and Roofe, with the Romanian international.
The days are gone when you have a strong first XI and anyone not in the team isn’t good enough or should be sold, the reason we won the league is that when players were injured or out of form, we had others capable of stepping up to the plate.
Vital Rangers Goal of the Season
Defoe v Livingston
Roofe v Standard Liege
Jack v Kilmarnock
Tavernier v Dundee United
The prime example is Hagi and Roofe, their recent form might not have been great but it can’t be forgotten how important they were between October and January when fixtures were coming thick and fast and, arguably, during the period that won us the league.
There are few players who start every week – we all know the ones that do – and Sakala will have to be patient but, when his chance does come, make the most of it, regardless of where he is on the pitch.