Friday, March 24, 2023

Rangers had shocker over Nikola Katic

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Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s last few months in charge of Glasgow Rangers were anything but enjoyable for the Ibrox faithful.

Having secured the Scottish Cup and reached the Europa League final in 2021/22, there were high hopes amongst the Light Blues’ supporters that the club could win back the Premiership crown and qualify for the Champions League.

Despite reaching the group stages of Europe’s premier club competition, the Light Blues lost all six matches, posting the tournament’s worst-ever group stage record in the process. They have also slipped nine points behind their Glasgow arch-rivals in the chase for the title, with a 4-0 defeat at Parkhead earlier this season a low point of Van Bronckhorst’s tenure.

The Dutchman had a somewhat low-key transfer window last summer, and following some laughable defensive displays such as the 7-1 Ibrox drubbing by Liverpool, he should have perhaps kept Croatian defender Nikola Katic at the club for at least another year.

What is Nikola Katic doing now?

The centre-back wasn’t perfect, but he possessed a “warrior”-like attitude according to former Rangers boss Steven Gerrard. The 26-year-old played 59 times for the club and scored six goals, with his headed winner against Celtic in 2019 his most notable contribution.

An injury which ruled him out of the entire title-winning campaign in 2020/21 set him back in terms of first-team action, and he spent a season on loan at Hajduk Split last year before Van Bronckhorst decided to sell him to FC Zurich last summer.

His form this season, coupled with the Gers’ defensive lapses, would suggest that the Glasgow club might have pulled the trigger a little too soon when it came to selling the Croatian. Across 12 league appearances for Zurich, Katic has an average Sofascore rating of 7.01/10, ranking him as the club’s fifth-best performer this term.

He also ranks first for accurate passes (38.5) and clearances (four) per game, while ranking third for interceptions (1.6 per game) and sixth for tackles (1.5) with the Swiss club, proving his worth in Europe and becoming a crucial member of their first-team.

His figures for clearances and interceptions would actually rank him first among the Rangers squad for both metrics, with Connor Goldson top with three clearances per game and John Lundstram leading the way in terms of interceptions with 1.1 per game. That all suggests that Katic could well have made a difference had he remained at Ibrox.

Of course, this is just conjecture, as he may not have been given much game-time under Van Bronckhorst had they both stayed. However, with John Souttar missing every match since making his debut in July and Goldson also ruled out for a period of time earlier in the campaign, Katic may have played a bigger part this term than what might have been anticipated at the time that he was sold.

The club had a shocker last summer in jettisoning the Croatian, and hopefully Michael Beale is slightly savvier than his predecessor when it comes to selling players in the future.



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