Watching Jordan Rossiter for the 14 minutes of action he got at the weekend assured me of one thing – he can be a star.
While many criticise Mark Warburton and his team’s shortcomings in defence and attack, Rangers have little to worry about when it comes to their midfield.
And Rossiter, in my opinion, is going to be a big part of that.
Joey Barton, Niko Kranjcar and Andy Halliday started in the middle for the 1-1 draw with Hamilton and, despite Barton somehow getting the Sky Sports man of the match award, none of them did enough to guarantee their place for the next league game against Dundee.
Barton was decent, but looked rusty in Rangers’ toughest competitive game of the season so far. Kranjcar was way off the pace, something Warburton was quick to highlight post-match. While Halliday looked his usual safe, but not sensational, self.
Yet, in his 14-minute cameo, Rossiter showed more than any of those players that he can be big at Ibrox!
From the moment you see the former Liverpool youngster, his confidence and swagger are clear. His shorts are high on his body and the shirt is always tucked in. Fans of the English giants will remember that from his short-lived time with the first team and he represented a real leader while captaining England’s Under 19s at the European Championships earlier this summer. You don’t break into the Liverpool first team at 17 and captain your country at youth level if you’ve not got something special about you.
Running in to a Rangers midfield that looked ragged on Saturday, Rossiter brought instant composure coupled with constant movement that only the best players appreciate. He might not always be on the ball, but you can guarantee he’s moving for his next pass, next header, next tackle or next interception. Watch him the next time he plays, it’s impressive to see a player so young but so adept at reading the passes and movements of his opponents.
Rossiter arrived in Glasgow with fans expecting the next Steven Gerrard, but he’s got more resemblance to a young Roy Keane in my opinion.
It’s not just in the disciplined look, but the quality of his play and appreciation of his capabilities. Rossiter knows he’s not a Gerrard. He knows he’s more of an A to B passer than an A to Z one like his former Anfield team-mate. Many players only realise that a big part of consistency is understanding your limits. Yet Rossiter appears safe in the knowledge that he’s there to make others play. And, like a stadium is nothing without fans, there’s no team without that kind of player.
While Barton has been signed to give Rangers immediate quality and experience in midfield this season, Rossiter has been brought in with a view to the long term. He’s got a four-year deal and the entirety of that contract appears necessary to get the best from the 19-year-old midfielder – he still has some important developing to do physically.
But if Dave King wanted Warburton in as manager to lay the building blocks for a new Rangers then signings like Rossiter are key to doing that. Like Brendan Rodgers will be intent on creating a Celtic team to compete over the next five to 10 years, Warburton will be clear in his long term vision for the club. That’s why Rossiter was signed.
Fans may have to wait for the young Liverpudlian to make his mark this season, but, when he does, Rangers are sure to be better in every way for it. And like Kieran Tierney appears a captain in the making for Celtic across the city, Rossiter possesses everything, but the experience, to skipper Rangers.
So when signings like Barton, Kranjcar, Clint Hill, Joe Doodoo, Matt Crooks and Lee Hodson are inevitably forgotten about, it’s the quality of Rossiter that Rangers fans will be left with. And everything points towards the team being in safe hands with him at the centre.