How often has Alfredo Morelos let his team-mates down? Too often according to his manager Steve Gerrard who demanded he exorcise some of the footballing demons that had proved so costly last season.
Last night, in Bern, the boot was on the other foot as the on-form striker traipsed off the artificial turf of the Wankdorf Stadium, having netted a goal, and been denied what looked like a stonewall penalty as he gave the Young Boys defence a torrid evening. But the referee let him down by waving aside the spot-kick appeals and, even more galling was the fact that his colleagues let him down, gifting their hosts two goals courtesy of some poor defending, to cancel out his first-half opener.
In the end it was a lack of discipline that cost them. But Morelos wasn’t the villain.
Having repelled a decent and powerful Swiss side, who have not lost on their own patch in 12 months, for most of the match, Rangers succumbed early in the second half. But it was the late winner which will irk. Looking comfortable and more than capable of walking away with a draw, which on the back of the opening group win over Feyenoord would have left them sitting pretty, they instead pushed up in search of a winner and with counter attacking, long, direct balls they were undone.
Captain James Tavernier was the one who was caught out and when the net bulged, it was easy to feel sorry for the likes of Morelos who will have been cursing the decision not to award the penalty when he was clipped closing in on a second goal.
He will also have been cursing the men behind him who failed to contain the Young Boys late threat.
It was his last-gasp goal against Legia Warsaw which had taken them into the group stages and his first-half goal, using his strength and his wiles to hold off his marker, roll him and then give the keeper the eyes to send him the wrong way and slot his strike home, gave Gerrard’s team a welcome advantage.
But it wasn’t to last. It meant the Glasgow side suffered defeat for the first time in European action this term, and recorded only their second defeat across all competitions. But no one can blame Morelos. These days, when the finger of blame is being pointed, he is no longer the man it is directed towards.
A player who has revamped his image by toning down the tantrums and focusing on what he has always been good at – scoring goals – he is earning the plaudits.
Last night’s goal was his 14th in 18 games – a tally that far outweighs his crime count. A man who amassed 18 yellow cards and five red cards last season did not add to his relatively miniscule total of three for this season despite the physical battle last night and the frustration of the denied penalty. The transformation is evident.
Maybe it’s maturity, maybe it is the threadbare patience of his manager or the influence of the more experienced Jermain Defoe, who is breathing down his neck and offering stern competition for the striking berth.
But, regardless of the reason, Rangers have a striker who no longer seems a liability in the big games, instead he is one of their major strengths.