Do they hate us cos they ain’t us?

Tis the season for Player of the Year (POTY) and Team of the Year (TOTY) selections, we’ve also just endured a fortnight-long International break so there is plenty chat of who should be in this and who should be in that.

And surprise, surprise, if you trawl through social and mainstream media you’ll barely find a mention of a Rangers player in any category, and why is this I hear you ask?

Is it because Rangers are full of foreigners similar to the early 2000’s in Dick Advocaat’s reign? Or, is it because Rangers are languishing in League 2 and obviously not playing at a high enough level for International selection? Maybe it’s because of a lack of objectivity blinkered by an unreasonable and somewhat irrational hatred of a football team, surely not?

The answer is of course “no” to the former and “probably” to the latter of these questions. So, in order to defend, we must first attack. Let’s look at POTY and TOTY.

Player of the Year

Rangers’ biggest issue this season has been consistency and this is echoed in the performance of the players. But this can be said of almost any player, not many will be 8/10 every game for a full season, except for maybe Sasa Papac. So out of the squad, for me, the players who have played at the highest level most often are:

  • Wes Foderingham
  • James Tavernier
  • Declan John
  • Daniel Candeias
  • Josh Windass
  • Alfredo Morelos
  • Greg Docherty (including his time at Hamilton).

I don’t think Wes will be in the team of the year, yes, he has improved but he’s not quite there yet. Plus, there remain questions over his footwork when dealing with crosses from set plays and from shots from distance, he has definitely made a more conscious effort to command his area and come for crosses and he has the potential for development.

James Tavernier statistically has been the best full-back in the league this season both in terms of assists and goals scored. He has shown a greater competency of defending at the back post and timing when to go forward and when to sit back, much of this must be down to the influence of former right back and current hot seat incumbent Graeme Murty. Despite all this, Scottish football fans seem reluctant to put him into their TOTY selections, churning out the “ach he cannae defend” line as justification.

The same can be said for Declan John, since Murty took over John has improved to the extent that he was recalled to the Welsh National side and by all accounts performed admirably. Once he learns how to block a cross he won’t be far away from being a decent full-back, as one of Lee Wallace’s biggest fans even I’m struggling to see a way back for him now. The obvious selection for TOTY is media darling Kieran Tierney, a £70 million move to Manchester United surely awaits in the summer…

I’m going to group the next three players together. Windass, Candeias and Morelos. All described by supporters of almost every other club in the country as useless. I’m not sure it helps that some of our own fans feel this way about them too mind you. These three are all at the top end of goals scored, assists and expected assists charts yet are frequently derided.

In his position, nobody has been more productive than Windass yet he will be nowhere near the TOTY because he doesn’t run around smashing opposition players when he isn’t getting the ball. If Morelos gets a few goals more between now and the end of the season and ends up top goal scorer I don’t think that would be enough either, maybe if he took the penalties too he would get a few extra plaudits.

As for Candeias, ignoring his chance creation statistics, he is the hardest working winger/wide midfielder in the league but again he falls victim to the start the team made under Pedro Caixinha and therefore classed as a diddy regardless of his performances since the Portuguese coach left.

I feel sorry for Greg Docherty, if he had stayed at Hamilton, he might’ve been in with a shout for TOTY and Young Player of the Year, he has no chance now he is at Rangers!

In my opinion, at least Tavernier and Candeias should be in the TOTY, remember it is also Candeias’ first season in the league. This is why I also feel Morelos should be a serious consideration, not only for the number of goals he has scored but because he has been playing in an unsettled team, with a lot of pressure on him at only 21 years old in his first season in a country where he doesn’t speak the language. He’s had a great season despite missing a few chances, which incidentally, every striker in the league has done.

As for Windass, well, he’s Marmite isn’t he, even for his own fans. He can score every game for ten games then not play well in the eleventh and he’s public enemy number one and it’s all his fault! I just don’t think other fans like him and that’s what it comes down to. In terms of TOTY, if he’d played centrally all season he might’ve had a serious chance.

With regards to the National Team, Alex McLeish will be more likely to select Rangers players but as yet our best contenders haven’t been available in Ross McCrorie and Ryan Jack. The absence of McCrorie from Scottish fan’s Scotland team/squads is amazing. He has all the physical and technical attributes to be an International player at either centre-half or in midfield and has become close to our best player at just 19.

Scott McKenna and Jack Hendry have similar levels of exposure to top level football and that’s enough for McCrorie to not even get a mention now. Liam Lindsay, at Barnsley being preferred, because Scottish fans watch a lot of Barnsley eh? Anyone but Rangers.

The total lack of appreciation for Jamie Murphy since he moved to Rangers too has been astonishing. Compare him to James Forrest for example, who has had dozens of chances at International level and continues to disappoint, yet people will still select him time after time in their best Scotland team.

Who knows what next season will hold but I’m being ambitious in suggesting the following players from Rangers will become Scotland squad regulars much to the suffering of others:

Ross McCrorie, Ryan Jack, Greg Docherty, Jamie Murphy, Jason Cummings and David Bates (he’s better than Hanley, Martin and Mulgrew, tell me he isn’t).

Maybe once they get used to the idea football fans in Scotland won’t find it quite as painful to select Rangers players in their TOTY or Scotland squads, I’ll not hold my breath though…