Alfredo Morelos was a “menace” and “unplayable” against Aberdeen on Wednesday. The Rangers striker was also “a liability” and “petulant”.
In a fixture that seems to bring out both sides of the Colombian, he scored twice – his second a goal of admirable beauty – in the 4-2 win at Pittodrie, but was also dismissed after tangling with Scott McKenna.
Afterwards, all the focus was on the 22-year-old’s fourth red card of the season – and his third against Aberdeen – rather than the devilish artistry of his play.
Former Rangers midfielder Charlie Adam said on BBC Radio 5 live that Morelos would be a £15m target for English Premier League clubs were it not for his indiscipline.
But how does his record compare with others? What do the pundits and those in the game think? And how do the fans consider him?
Does perception meet reality? – what the numbers say
Morelos is, unquestionably, one of the best strikers in the Scottish Premiership and has scored more goals than any other player in the top flight this term, with 15 in 23 appearances.
However, the man in second place on that list – Aberdeen’s Sam Cosgrove – has a better goals-per-minute ratio.
Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard has also proved marginally more efficient than the Rangers striker and he – like Morelos – has not had his record burnished by penalty kicks.
The perception, too, is that Morelos’ disciplinary record is particularly bad. But in the grand scheme of things, his average of a red card every 659 Premiership minutes this season is not actually an unprecedented rate.
Last season, Rangers team-mate Ryan Jack was shown four red cards in 1384 minutes of football, albeit two were – like Morelos’ first at Pittodrie this term – later rescinded.
Similarly, Darren O’Dea picked up a red card every 630 minutes for Dundee last term, while Jayden Stockley was even worse, with a sending off every 464 minutes while on loan at Aberdeen.
‘He’s a liability in that respect’ – what the pundits say
Former Rangers director of football Gordon Smith on Sportsound
He did follow through with his foot. McKenna’s reacted and kicked out and Morelos’ made the most of it. If you look at the footage, at one point he’s covering one eye and with his other eye he’s looking to see what the referee’s going to do. He was actually having a glance up while he was writhing about in agony. It’s just what he does. It takes away from his game. He scored two excellent goals. The second is world class. Why does he have to get involved in other things? He’s a liability in that respect. Rangers have got to deal with it. He needs help with the behavioural side of his game.
Former Rangers winger Neil McCann on Sportsound
I think McKenna, when he kicks out, is trying to release himself and he does catch Morelos. I think Morelos has a couple of rolls to just exaggerate the fact that there’s contact been made. I don’t think Morelos does enough for a red card himself. He doesn’t rake his foot.
‘On his game, he’s a star’ – what those in the game say
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard: “For Alfredo to go to the next level, he will have to channel his aggression. But I’m doing everything in my power to help the kid grow as a footballer and as a person. I’m not going to take the physical side away from him because he’ll get bullied out there against some strong physical players. But for people to trust him, he does have to channel it in the right way.”
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes: “We were up against a top-class striker in Morelos. He was fantastic in terms of leading the line. He’s an absolute menace. He was the one that was causing us problems. I thought it was a pretty even game other than his second finish which is top class. When Morelos is on his game he’s a star.”
Former Rangers midfielder Charlie Adam: “Players have got a streak about them – you’ve got to look after yourself – but the way he does it, it’s petulant. That’s the only doubt with Morelos. In any game, at any moment, he’s got a switch that can get him a red card. It’s stupidity, really. You’re talking £15m-£20m for him if he didn’t have that.”
‘An absolute monster & a £1m robbery’ – what the fans say