Former Rangers striker Kris Boyd did not hold back in his criticism of centre-back Nikola Katic following a tough day at the office for the Croatian at the weekend.
The 23-year-old was punished for two miscued clearances that led to St Johnstone’s goals in the 2-2 draw at McDiarmid Park on Sunday, with the Sky Sports pundit labelling it as “the worst 90 minutes I’ve seen from a Rangers centre-half” and adding that Katic’s bad day in Perth has not been in isolation.
Speaking on Sky Sports [via Daily Record], Boyd fumed: “I could stand here until the cows come home tonight and I won’t change my mind – it was the worst 90 minutes I’ve seen from a Rangers centre-half. That I can remember anyway. The first three clips here (of Katic mistakes) are before the goal – the goal went in in the eighth minute! Steven Gerrard sent George Edmundson out to warm up after 10 minutes.”
He added: “I’ve never seen it in Nikola Katic from the start. I had a little period where I though to myself ‘You’re doing the basics, as a defender, just clear your lines and you can be effective’. But today, not just today, since the break to be honest, the bad habits have been creeping back into his game and that would be a worry that you have had criticism from the mistakes before and you’ve not learned from them and you continue to make them.”
Boyd also took a swipe at Katic’s centre-back team-mate Edmundson, saying: “I hear Edmundson should be playing, well, Steven Gerrard picks Nikola Katic ahead of him and that doesn’t say much for him (Edmundson) either.” [Sky Sports, via Daily Record]
While the pundit’s description of the Croatian’s performance as the worst he has seen from a Rangers centre-back may sound a tad extreme, his comments about Katic being below his best in recent weeks are not without foundation. Aside from the errors which led to the concession of both goals against St Johnstone, he was lucky to get away with being caught in possession in the draw against Aberdeen earlier this month, Sam Cosgrove letting him off the hook by failing to convert the resulting chance.
Rangers have conceded 13 goals in the 17 Premiership matches that the 23-year-old has started this season, a ratio of 0.76 per game. By comparison, their defence has been breached only five times in the 10 league games without him in the starting line-up (0.5 per game), suggesting that perhaps they are more resolute when he is not in the team. [via TransferMarkt]
Boyd’s concerns about Edmundson are also pertinent, given that the English defender hasn’t been able to command a place in the team in recent weeks despite scoring against Hibernian (as per TransferMarkt) and despite the injury-enforced absence of Filip Helander leaving just him, Katic and Connor Goldson as Gerrard’s senior centre-back options.
The 22-year-old last featured in the Scottish Cup win over Hamilton, with his performance that day drawing criticism from a portion of Rangers fans on social media, and if he is again overlooked in favour of Katic for the Europa League trip to Braga this week, it would not reflect greatly on his standing at Ibrox. Therefore, Boyd’s observations on both centre-backs may seem harsh but aren’t completely unjustified.
Rangers fans, do you agree with Boyd’s strong criticism of Katic and fears for Edmundson? Comment below with your views!
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