No-one who has ever watched the whirling dervish that is Alfredo Morelos would dare claim that the Rangers striker is more sinned against than sinning. The fact the 29-goal forward has been shown four red cards and 19 yellow cards this season reveals all about the 22-year-old’s irascibility.
His closest friend and confidante in the Ibrox squad Daniel Candeias, though, maintains it is too often overlooked that the Colombian’s disciplinary issues involve opponents far from whiter-than-white casting the first stone.
The Portuguese winger, as with all in the Rangers camp, was relieved Morelos escaped citation for lashing out at Kilmarnock’s Kirk Broadfoot on Saturday and as a result will be free to play in the derby at Celtic Park a week on Sunday. A game wherein the Ibrox side will seek the first of the many snookers they appear to need to play their way back into a title race that has stopped being one after Celtic established a ten-point gap last weekend.
Taking no action against Morelos was the only just decision, according to Candeias, who considers Broadfoot’s kick on his heel to cause his team-mate’s latest temper loss the sort of gamesmanship he believes the fiery frontman has to deal with all too often.
Candeias draws the parallel with Diego Costa, another bull-in-a-china-shop-style predator with a tendency to go on the rampage when goaded to do so by rivals. And the Ibrox wide man claims referees must be as vigilant with those who deliberately go out of their way to get a reaction from Morelos as they are in dishing out sanctions to the player when this tactic pays off.
“I think people say Alfredo has too many red cards, but in all the games the players provoke Alfredo,” Candeias said. “I have said it before. He is like Diego Costa. He gets provocations all through the games.
‘The referees can help Alfredo in the games. I think all the people look too much at Alfredo. The referees look too much at Alfredo. When the games start, all the time the referees speak to Alfredo ‘Hey, easy today’. But all the time the players provoke Alfredo.
“At the start of the season in Aberdeen, Alfredo did nothing. All the time [Scott] McKenna provoked Alfredo. All the players when they play against Rangers… I don’t know, have so much anger for Rangers and Alfredo.”
Candeias doesn’t just accept that Morelos shouldn’t react. He attempts to coax him through encounters to prevent such outbursts occuring. Morelos, though, is nothing if not single-minded. And in his mind has patently been the desire to move to a bigger league, with Rangers placing a £20m price tag on him that may prove difficult to realise given the striker’s volatility.
“I talk with Alfredo all the game,” the 31-year-old said. “But it is the game of Alfredo. I know he is like Diego Costa. He needs to stay in the game with provocations.
“Sometimes when you are 22-year-old you have a strong mentality. But it’s a normal reaction to the provocations.
“He is emotional and there are so many emotions in the game. That is football. Alfredo has the mentality. This season, he has too many red cards of course but I think it will help Alfredo for future years.
“He can improve a lot. More goals, more consistency in the games. If he keeps working hard each week, I think he can become better and better.
“It’s important for him. I think Rangers is a great club and it has helped Alfredo a lot. I think if he stays one more year in Scotland it would be good for him.
“But, of course, if you score goals like this season, maybe you leave Rangers for another club. That’s football. It’s normal in football.”
There seems nothing much normal about Morelos who broods and scowls on the pitch as if he is railing against the world.
That is not the young man Candeias knows,and whom he believes can mix it with the best one day – as he was this week in being pictured with James Hernandez and Radamel Falcao on international duty.
“When Alfredo doesn’t score goals, he stays sad...he stays angry,” Candeias said. “He likes to score goals and if you don’t do that, of course you are sad. But Alfredo is so funny in the dressing room. All the people at the club like him. He is a great partner. Everyone is happy with him. He is joking all the time with the other players.”
There is more to Morelos than meets the eye for an eye.