After a week of heavy speculation, Lille finally entered the transfer market on Saturday, selling one striker and bringing in another.
The good news for Rangers fans is that the French club replaced Napoli-linked Victor Osimhen with Turkish veteran Burak Yilmaz and not much-talked-about Colombian Alfredo Morelos.
The bad news for the residents of Ibrox is that Lille should not stop there on the recruitment front. Next week should be as frantic in the speculation department as this week was when it comes to Morelos’ future.
He was there from the start in Pittodria, a place as strange as we expected and as swearing as we feared. If you’ve ever wondered what players, managers and assistant managers are saying in the noise of a full stadium, wonder no more. It’s not Proust, he said thus.
Aberdeen, as a club, handled this game well. Their organization was sharp, their staff on point. It would have taken a lot of work to prepare for the big kickoff, so fair play with them for that.
Their team in the park? In the absence of the great Sam Cosgrove, a little less. Having played 10 times against Steven Gerrard’s side over the past two seasons, with a return to balance of three wins, three losses and four draws, it was a performance that has never troubled the Rangers. Connor Goldson and assured newbie Leon Balogun had little to do with them.
It took Aberdeen half an hour to fire a shot at the target, and when it came it was in line with their attitude – shy.
In the second half, they increased their pace of work and their aggressiveness, but not always in a good way. Andrew Considine rightly walked for a terrible tackle on Scott Arfield towards the end. The suggestion that the home team could save something from the game was long gone by then.
“Even lazy, he played a key role”
The winner was simple. A high press from Aberdeen that went haywire. A James Tavernier midfielder punt from his right-back position, a clean pass from Morelos to Ryan Kent on the loose – as opposed to the men in red around him standing free – and then a very cool finish from midfield. Gerrard will need a lot more of that from Kent this season.
Morelos, as always, had many eyeballs on him. It’s fair to say he’s carrying a little more weight, or it certainly looked like this. His performance was not that heavy. He had half a chance and scratched it largely.
Kent and Joe Aribo were Rangers’ stellar players going forward, but last season’s weakness may well be weakness again this season. They really should have won by more than one goal.
They got sucked a few times in the past so they didn’t have the creativity to force their superiority. Aberdeen wasn’t good enough to charge them, but adding that extra attacking spark, that ability to unlock solid defense, has to be at the forefront of Gerrard’s mind.
It has been more than 11 hours now since Morelos last scored a league goal for his club, but on the other hand, he was at the heart of the game’s defining moment. Even lazy, he managed to play a key role in winning a game the Rangers just needed to win.
Any slippage on opening day would have put them on the back foot from the start and Morelos helped make sure that didn’t happen.
The soap opera around him will continue, nothing more certain. Gerrard claims the club have not received any offers in line with their assessment. Some say the striker will be gone in weeks, others say it’s not as cut and dried.
Confusion reigned on a day when the Rangers reigned. They are operational. In a back-and-forth game that lasts all season, it’s now at Celtic.