Former Celtic midfielder Kris Commons has lashed out at Steven Gerrard’s treatment of Greg Stewart after his superb display against Aberdeen on Saturday. Stewart came in from the cold for his first Premiership start against his former team and produced an impressive performance that was capped with a goal.
The former Dundee star, who signed in the summer on a free transfer from Championship side Birmingham City showed his creative guile as he drifted all over the final third, causing the Don’s back-line no end of difficulty.
Commons thinks he’s proven himself as Rangers most attacking potent weapon and that quotes attributed to the Rangers boss after the game would have upset him had he been the player in question.
Writing in his column in the Daily Mail, he said:
“I found Gerrard’s post-match comments on Saturday a bit strange, given how good Stewart had been and how key he had been to victory.
“Sorry, but what is there to think about? The answer is staring Gerrard square in the face because, on that form, Stewart is his most creative player.
“As a player, I wouldn’t like to hear my manager saying something like that about me. It’s almost as if he’s saying: ‘Okay, so Greg’s part of my second string, but I might think about playing him more in the future’.
Basically, it sounds as if Gerrard still isn’t fully convinced, which begs the question of why he chose to sign him in the first place?
“Stewart is far better than that. Look at the abundance of wide players at the club – Jordan Jones, Ryan Kent , Sheyi Ojo and Brandon Barker.
“When he’s on top form, I’d take Stewart ahead of any of them. It’s time for Gerrard to show more trust and faith in him. After this performance on Saturday, the Rangers manager shouldn’t be speaking about him like he’s some kind of outcast.”
Rangers might be in good form and only one point behind leaders Celtic after seven games. But the reality is that if Gerrard and Rangers are to stand any chance of stopping Celtic from winning a ninth title in a row, the only character they must keep now is consistency. And so far, Greg Stewart is looking like he can provide that (potentially).
One important area that stood out in Kris’ comments in his column as above is the impact of Greg Stewart compared to other available options at the club.
Using Sheyi Ojo as a yardstick, it would appear Kris was right and perhaps Greg Stewart should be given more game time based on what he’s done so far (considering all circumstances).
As per Transfermarkt, Greg Stewart has managed one goal and two assists in four appearances so far. Still going by the same source, Sheyi Ojo has also managed one goal and two assists in six appearances this season.
The above statistics get more conclusive when you consider that it took Greg Stewart only 112 minutes to do so compared to Sheyi Ojo at 446 minutes. Meaning the former’s average of a goal contribution every 37 minutes is by far better than Ojo’s tally at a goal contribution every 148 minutes (via Transfermarkt). Based on that, it would naturally be right to start a more consistent performer and someone who will likely contribute to the team.
When you further consider that out of Stewart’s four appearances, three of them have been from the bench and the 5-0 win against Aberdeen at the weekend was his first start in close to a month, it makes it more interesting considering Sheyi Ojo has had five starts and only one substitute cameo from his six appearances so far. It all points to the same notion – Greg Stewart should be a starter or at least get more game time than he’s currently afforded.
However, we know no one likes to change a winning team and perhaps it is that mentality that has seen Gerrard stick to his same lineup regardless of what statistics may say or prove. It remains to be seen if Stewart’s performance at the weekend will actually give Steven Gerrard food for thought but in the long one where consistency would be key, the 29-year-old is already showing he should be considered when the opening arises.