Alfredo Morelos has penned a new contract, keeping him at Rangers until 2023. Joel Sked looks at why that is good news for the Ibrox club and Scottish football as a whole.
Fans are out their seat. Incredulous. Venom spills from the mouth, veins protrude from the neck. A range of unflattering gestures are extended in his direction. At Tynecastle and Pittodrie, Easter Road and St Mirren Park. Grown men and women are having to be held back and calmed down. Raging.
Alfredo Morelos has just found the back of the net and he is off, ready to let everyone in the stadium know exactly who has scored. He looks fans in the eyes, points to himself and then to the ground.
It’s a pointed message: “I’m the boss.”
There are few players in Scottish football who entice such anger from opposition fans. Steven Naismith, Scott Brown, Dougie Imrie and Kirk Broadfoot are some. But none are as confrontational as the Colombian.
Aside from the joy which comes with scoring, Morelos has two facial expressions: snarl and disbelief. He constantly looks as if he has been wronged, that everyone is out to get him. Morelos v the world. There are few centre backs in the country he hasn’t clashed with, and there was even an incident with team-mate Greg Docherty last season.
For 11 clubs he is a figure of disgust. For Rangers he is a figure of love and adoration.
On Friday, ahead of the club’s trip to Easter Road, supporters were rejoicing with the news he had signed a new contract which runs until 2023.
It is a deal which is not only positive for the Ibrox club but fans of Scottish football and the pantomime which comes hand in hand with it.
Tying the player down to what will likely be a lucrative deal, compared to the one he penned when signing from HJK Helsinki in the summer of 2017 for a measly £1million, will ensure the club receive a generous fee for the 22-year-old.
The club’s managing director Stewart Robertson revealed the club value the player at around £20million, the same price Moussa Dembele was sold by Celtic to Lyon.
Such a statement was met with nodding heads among the Ibrox support, while those of a Celtic persuasion or fans of other SPFL clubs simply scoffed. A ‘flat-track bully’ many said.
That put-down relates to his inability to score against Celtic. He yet to find the target in seven games against the champions. Such a hex only strengthens with each passing encounter. However, the flat-track bully tag is incorrect, especially this season. He has bagged 15 goals against the rest of the top six or in the Europa League group stages.
Plus he brings so much more to Rangers than goals. And it is in his all-round play which makes him such a fascinating character, one which enriches Scottish football and makes it a such an entertaining league.
He is the player you turn up to a game or turn on the TV to watch. He infuriates and captivates in equal measure.
One minute he is going to ground under minimal contact before assaulting the turf and berating the referee. Moments later the ball is fired into his feet and he is making some of the best centre backs Scotland has to offer look amateurish.
When you attend football the last thing you want it to be is sterile, emotion-less and soft. Morelos provides needle, emotion and grit.
This article should come with a disclaimer, the writer is a huge Morelos fan and no apologies will be offered up. There is no single player who provides as much entertainment.
Sitting down to watch a Rangers game, you don’t know what to expect when it comes to the striker.
There is the football side. The all-action striker who provides a constant nuisance-factor. He’ll back in to defenders, nudge and engage, using his considerable arse to his advantage. Opponents are playing with fire when they get too tight.
His finishing can be erratic but as he showed against Aberdeen in the 4-2 win in the league in February he is developing greater finesse.
That particular game also showcased the other side to his game. That side. The side which has been slammed and savaged, prompting calls for the club to wash their hands with him as he is a liability.
Four red cards in a season - one of which was rescinded - is quite the feat. It is this flaw, his struggle to control his temper, which makes him even more box office. He is not a dirty player in terms of committing reckless challenges which could endanger another player’s career.
Instead, it is petty, needless but funny. Incidents which have you screaming at your TV. ‘Just what are you playing at?’
Steven Gerrard must have had sleepless nights due to his striker. But rather than his attitude being tempered, as a neutral, it should be encouraged. We, as fans, pay money to be entertained, whether it be at games or on the television.
Alfredo Morelos does that.
He is the great entertainer of Scottish football and he should be cherished before he leaves and takes his quality, both in front of goal and infuriating fans, to another league.