If Rangers’ accounts made for grim reading last week then the formula to solve the problem doesn’t add up, according to Ibrox manager Steven Gerrard.
The most recent figures showed an £11.3m loss with another £10m investment required to sustain the running of the club. If the board look at the figures on the park as a source of solving the issue – Colombian internationalist Alfredo Morelos’ 21 goals have repeatedly linked him with a big money move that would plug a financial gap – Gerrard has been unequivocal in his stance that the subtraction of the striker from his squad would derail the club’s attempt to stop another unwanted number looming large this summer.
Gerrard’s remit is to stop Celtic’s record-equalling nine-in-a-row this season. To that end he has insisted that the club cannot afford to allow their best player to leave at the midway stage of a campaign. Conceding that the decision to sell Morelos will ultimately be taken out of his hands, he has risked a rift with his board by making it public that any decision to cash in on the striker will be done without his approval.
Gerrard stated last week that Morelos would “100 per cent be going nowhere”, a view he has made clear to those who will have the final say on the accepting of any potential offer that may land on the table in January. He was a little more circumspect when speaking on Friday. “When every window opens, every one of our players has a price,” acknowledged Gerrard. “That’s what we’re dealing with. But a decision like that wouldn’t have anything to do with me – because everyone knows what my answer would be – certainly with Morelos.
“But the same goes for every player I want to stay here. I’d be as strong as I could be with my opinions. But I don’t own the club. We expect bids to land, not just for Alfredo. Then that decision will be taken out of my hands. But Dave King and the board know – and they’d know again if a bid was to land – what my feelings would be towards it. It’s OK saying we’d have a list of replacements. But you can never predict whether a replacement would come in and do as well as the player already here. It takes time to build a team, a style and a way of playing. If you take big pieces of that jigsaw away – sometimes where you want to get to can take an awful lot longer.
“If we are talking about Alfredo, for example, OK, lets paint a picture of selling him in January. What club out there is going to let you buy a player as good as Alfredo? It’s impossible. It’s not going to happen.”
There was hint of frustration in Gerrard’s suggestion that there is nothing much to see around Morelos at the minute, but the reality is that the 23-year-old’s future will be a subject of conjecture until the closure of the winter window.
“We are talking about something that’s not happened,” he bristled. “We have never had a suitable bid so I don’t even know why we are talking about this to be honest. We are going to watch him play for Rangers against Livingston. I know you are fascinated in this and that but as far as I’m concerned he’s going nowhere.”
If the matter of Morelos’ future was a niggle for Gerrard, it is little compared to the manner in which Livingston have got under his skin. The overly physical approach of Gary Holt’s side drew a stinging rebuke in the aftermath of a League Cup win at the end of September which left Joe Aribo with 20 stitches in a head wound but sorer still was the defeat in the Tony Macaroni Arena just over a year ago. “That was an interesting debrief after that game,” said the Rangers manager. “Everyone could see quite clearly that we were too passive in that game. If you do that, you’re normally in a bad mood the day after.
“We’ve moved forward from there and made vast improvements, in terms of the squad and level of consistency. But we all know what football can do to you. If you get carried away after Thursday night and get complacent, it can come back to bite you. So the challenge is to come down from Porto and get ourselves ready for a tough test, a different kind of test.”