Yesterday’s 4-0 win in Gibraltar against St. Joseph’s was the perfect start for Steven Gerrard’s Rangers as he sets about replicating last season’s feat of qualifying for the Europa League group stages.
Second-half goals from Ryan Jack, Sheyi Ojo, Connor Goldson (although Borna Barisic will have something to say to the UEFA Dubious Goals Committee) and Alfredo Morelos were enough for Gerrard’s men to ease past Gibraltans St. Joseph’s. Despite a low level of opposition, there are definitely things that Gerrard will have learnt from the qualifier and could see him shape his side as the season progresses.
The first positive for the former Liverpool captain is the performance of Ojo. The Liverpool loanee was the creative epicentre of The Gers and looked a real driving force for a side that most certainly needed his verve and technical ability. While his fellow winger and new signing Jordan Jones was fairly quiet it was Ojo that stood up and took control of his side’s attacking output and caused the Gibrlatans problems from the get-go. Ojo capped a good performance of with a Thierry Henry-like finish and was unlucky to not add another but his performance should go some way in helping Gerrard and the Rangers faithful in forgetting Ryan Kent.
On the other flank the creative output came largely from Barisic as the left-back was tasked with providing the width as Jones tucked in to create from his left-wing position. The Croatian full-back and Gerrard haven’t always had the best of relationships but it looks like there’s a newfound trust going into the 2019-20 season which could be beneficial for everyone involved. Barisic’s delivery could do with a little work but given his tireless running down the left, he does provide the perfect foil to an inverted winger like Jones (or Scott Arfield when he returns to Rangers action after the Gold Cup).
Steve Davis’ inclusion in the starting line-up was something of a surprise given the signing of Joe Aribo from Charlton. But given Aribo’s lack of fitness, Greg Docherty still not being totally trusted as a Rangers’ starter by Gerrard and in Arfield’s absence it was left to Davis to be the most advanced of the midfield three alongside Glen Kamara and Ryan Jack. Davis did well and staked his claim to be the third midfielder but given the arrival of Aribo it’s unlikely the Northern Irishman will hold down that role, yet performances like last night will do the 34-year-old no harm.