As a midfield player who was renowned for grabbing a game by the scruff of the neck and turning the tide in his team’s favour, Steven Gerrard would surely have approved of Ross McCrorie’s contribution as Rangers came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw at Pittodrie on Tuesday night.
As the incoming Rangers manager assesses which members of the current squad will make the cut in his new era at Ibrox, McCrorie certainly did himself no harm with an influential performance which drew warm praise from both his current caretaker boss Jimmy Nicholl and Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.
In a largely dismal season for Rangers, the emergence of 20-year-old McCrorie has been a ray of light for their supporters.
While several of his first-team outings have been in central defence, it is in a midfield role where McCrorie has really caught the eye. He did so again at Pittodrie where he was the driving force for Rangers in a second half which saw him score the goal which cancelled out Kenny McLean’s early penalty kick for the Dons.
The personable youngster is understandably enthusiastic about the prospect of continuing his development next season under the guidance of Gerrard.
“I have played centre midfield for the last two games and hopefully I have done a good job for the team and impressed him,” said McCrorie.
“Because he played in midfield, he can pass on his experiences to me and help my game. But I will play wherever he wants me to play and see what happens.
“It is a motivation for everyone to show the new manager coming in that they are worthy of a place in the team next season. But it is Rangers Football Club and everyone should be motivated to go into every game and win, regardless.”
McCrorie’s celebrations of his goal on Tuesday night were emotionally charged as he dedicated it to his seriously ill grandmother, a woman who has been one of his most significant influences as he has worked his way through the youth system at Rangers.
“When I was younger, I used to go to my gran’s every day before training and get my lunch,” said McCrorie. “She has been a huge encouragement in my life.
“So the goal was for my gran. She has not got long to live so I hope she was watching and I made her proud.
“I have known for a couple of weeks about her situation. But this is my job and I need to put that on the back burner and not let it affect me. These things happen in life. I spoke to the family about it before the game so hopefully I made her proud.”
McCrorie will be an anxious spectator at Easter Road this Sunday as he is suspended, along with striker Alfredo Morelos, for Rangers’ final Premiership fixture against Hibs as the battle for runners-up spot in the table reaches a dramatic climax.
He is hopeful his team-mates can build on their positive response at Aberdeen when a half-time dressing room inquest helped them produce a much improved performance in the second 45 minutes.
“We all knew we didn’t really turn up in the first half but in the second half we came out a lot better,” said McCrorie. “We were still disappointed not to get the three points.
“It was really frustrating because we actually got off to a good start in the first 15 minutes before the penalty for Aberdeen put us on the back foot. I thought the second half was a much better performance, but we have put ourselves in a difficult decision for Sunday as we are still a point behind Aberdeen. We just have to go for the victory and see what happens elsewhere.
“On Sunday, we will need to go out all guns blazing and hopefully get three points. But we are also relying on Aberdeen’s result at Celtic Park.”