Rangers moved to the semi-finals of the Scottish League cup by securing a comfortable 4-0 win against Ayr. However, a small incident would have left Gerrard miffed as Alfredo Morelos was once again booked, this time for dissent, and after accumulating two yellow cards in a row, the Colombian striker would miss out in the semi-final against Aberdeen. With Kyle Lafferty already cup-tied, the Gers might have to go in with inexperienced Umar Sadiq up front in that game. However, the gaffer gave a brutally honest assessment of Sadiq, and there is a good chance that Gerrard might use some attacking midfielder or a winger as a striker in the semi-finals.
After the victory Gerrard had said,”I can understand him(Morelos) getting frustrated as I thought it was a foul on him. The ref said that their player got the ball cleanly but I disagree. But we suffer as a club and that’s the disappointing thing. It’s the only thing that disappoints me tonight. It’s a frustration – we lose a player in form and we are going to have to find a way to get the job done without a natural nine unless Sadiq comes to the party and improves an awful lot between now and then.”
It seems clear that the Nigerian is currently nowhere near the picture to start in the starting eleven as Gerrard claims that the 21-year-old needs to do an ‘awful lot’ to start a game where he is the only striker available. The message is a strong one and might dishearten the player, but this shows that the manager is not afraid to call a spade a spade.
Now the forward can look at this message in two ways. Either he can resent Gerrard at the prospect of seeing his manager not rate him much, or he can do that ”awful lot” in training which his manager demands and showcase that he is worthy of a start.
Sadiq’s record at the youth level in the Italian league has been fantastic, and the AS Roma striker looked destined for big things at one point. His goals to game ratio at that level is impressive with an average of over one goal scored per game, but the Nigerian striker has found it tough to replicate such form at the top level. Often we see players who had it easy at the youth level stumble when they are given a new challenge as they are not used to failing.
The case of Sadiq looks similar here as this is probably the first time in his career where he is on the fringes of the squad and is finding it tough to break into the playing eleven. This season can make or break him as it can show whether he would take the challenge head on or sulk on the sidelines due to the lack of opportunities.