What a difference a year makes, especially if you’re Rangers player and Colombian firebrand Alfredo Morelos.
The Colombian firebrand has yet to find his scoring touch this pre-season despite entering the last one hotter than a fresh cup of lava java poured by Juan Valdez himself.
Yet to find the net in four games, Morelos cut a frustrated figure as he was subbed off in the 2-0 win over Coventry.
The striker’s face adorned the same scowl we’ve been accustomed to as a rake of missed chances clearly frustrated the striker.
But the criticism of Morelos – who was this week linked with a £15m move to Ligue 1 Lille [Daily Mail print 23/07/20, p.89] – has been considerably over the top.
Not least because the goals are being shared out over the team – and he’s helping to create them.
The boisterous striker played a one-two with Joe Aribo to set up the Nigerian’s first, and his one-touch link-up play throughout pre-season has been solid.
He’s just not found the golden touch yet.
The striker’s miss from a stunning Ianis Hagi no-look pass against Coventry was his most gilt-edged of the pre-season but it only gives a glimpse into the evolving role he’s playing in the side.
If we’re to be successful the pressure needs to come off Morelos to consistently deliver all of the club’s goals; Rangers’ biggest problem being a lack of numbers from out wide and in midfield.
If anything, the early signs that the burden is being shared across the team is positive rather than negative.
Gerrard himself acknowledged Morelos’ frustration at the end of the game when asked if the striker would understand the Scouser’s decision to replace him.
“We don’t a lot of options at number nine so I had to be sensible with Alfredo and get him off the pitch,” said Gerrard [Premier Sports].
“I don’t need an injury or unnecessary suspension in that area so that’s the reason I took him off.“Probably not, he never does! He doesn’t like coming off the football pitch but I have to think about the team, not individual players.”
For a player who has scored close to 60 goals in two seasons and – if the club can keep him – will more than likely break the 100 mark all in for the club this year (77 in total) this is the kind of hunger and desire you want to see.
Whilst scoring goals have been such a big part of Morelos’ contribution to Rangers, the Colombian’s game is about so much more.
He’s our focal point, a downright nuisance to play against, a talented and intelligent player in and around the box.
Some of the early criticism has been way over the top and this is a player who will be vital to any success we have this season.
Whilst Morelos might not have scored yet – true to form for the feisty 24-year-old – he won’t stop trying until he does.
Write the forward off at your peril.