Davie Provan has partially blamed Glasgow Rangers’ Champions League exit on striker Alfredo Morelos after he returned late to Ibrox following his holiday.
The Lowdown: Morelos late
Morelos took a break after the Copa America, where he and his Colombia teammates reached the semi-finals. He didn’t return to Glasgow until the end of July, with Steven Gerrard saying that he didn’t know when the 25-year-old would be available (via The Scottish Sun).
He missed the Gers’ Champions League third qualifying round first leg clash with Malmo, which the Gers lost 2-1. He did score in the second leg at Ibrox, but the 55-time Scottish champions were defeated by the same scoreline to exit 4-2 on aggregate.
The Latest: Provan slams Morelos
Writing in The Scottish Sun, Provan slammed Morelos over his late return from international duty which caused him to miss the first leg against Malmo. He fumed:
“Beating Malmo and Ludogorets could have seen Rangers collect the thick end of £80m within a year.
“That would have given them a decent chance of keeping their better players. Not now. Unless Park has discovered oil under Ibrox, he’ll have to sell.
“Alfredo Morelos would be a good place to start. Eighteen months ago the striker was dropped for a Scottish Cup tie at Tynecastle after returning late from Colombia.
“Ahead of the Malmo first leg Gerrard admitted he didn’t know when to expect the striker back in Glasgow. Biggest game of the season and Morelos can’t get himself on a plane in time?
“Sorry, but that reflects as poorly on Gerrard as it does Morelos.
“Too often the Gers gaffer has put his own credibility on the line for Morelos and been let down.
“Look, I get Gerrard’s support of the Colombian. Football coaches would pick Jack the Ripper if he was good for 20 goals a season.
“But Morelos has disrespected everyone who’s gone out on a limb for him.
“What did team-mates make of his no-show for the game in Sweden?
“Morelos is on record saying he wants to play in a better league, Rangers should give him the chance now.”
The Verdict: Difficult situation
On the one hand, the £10.8m-valued Morelos (Transfermarkt) deserves a break. While he did not play a huge role in Colombia’s Copa America run, he still needed to be mentally and physically prepared for the entire tournament, so he could not afford to switch off. It is only natural that he took some time off to recover once the competition had come to an end.
Is Morelos to blame for the Malmo defeat?
However, as Provan hinted, the issue is Gerrard not knowing when his star striker would be available. How can the manager be expected to get the Gers ready to compete at the highest level if he does not know what is going on with one of his most important players? There has to be better communication, but Morelos can still make up for his absence if he helps the Gers reach the Europa League group stage.
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