Ally McCoist defended Steven Gerrard’s decision to name three COVID rulebreakers on the Rangers bench on Thursday night as they beat Royal Antwerp in the Europa League at Ibrox.
Nathan Patterson, Calvin Bassey and Bongani Zungu all made Gerrard’s squad with right-back Patterson coming on at half-time and scoring a stunning goal within 17 seconds.
Zungu also appeared later in the match, which suggests that Gerrard is happy for players to break COVID protocol and then use them in big fixtures.
Speaking after the match on BT Sport 3 on Thursday night, Ibrox legend McCoist said: “You couldn’t make that up. Absolutely couldn’t make that up.
“[Patterson] is a very lucky boy. He gets on the bench and we’re thinking, ‘he’s done very well to get on the bench, if [Leon] Balogun has one or two problems in the last 15 minutes, Steven Gerrard makes a substitution’. And as substitutions go, that might be one of the better ones I’ve seen.
“I said before the game – and I make no apology for repeating myself – when you’re a manager we can question if it’s the right thing to do. Should the boys be punished? Let’s start on the next thing, Steven Gerrard’s priority is to do what’s best for Rangers Football Club moving forward. He felt it was the best thing to do to put those boys on the bench.
“It absolutely worked for him but they’re still lucky boys.”
If Gerrard’s priority is to do “what’s best for Rangers”, then why did he play Patterson and Zungu and also name Bassey on the bench?
Those three players broke national lockdown rules and other than being sent to self-isolate for a small period, they have had no punishment at all from the club.
Of course, winning matches is what Gerrard is there to do as manager but his role at Ibrox goes much deeper than that.
Would Rangers have won the tie without Patterson coming on at half-time? We think they would have despite Balogun looking out of his depth at right-back against Jordan Lukaku.
Did Zungu need to come off the bench in the 82nd minute with the tie already won? Absolutely not.
The South Africa midfielder, who’s on loan from Amiens, has done very little to show he should be signed permanently in the summer so to hand him an appearance over some of the other players is a real kick in the teeth.
Gerrard got the decision to include those three players horribly wrong and we’re not going to give into the fickle nature that some fans have shown.
When news broke of what they did, the majority of fans were calling for their Ibrox careers to be over – including Patterson and Bassey.
We cannot just forgive them simply because of Patterson scoring one goal because the punishment for those five players has to be consistent.
Jordan Jones and George Edmundson were frozen out of the squad and loaned out in January. Patterson, Bassey and Zungu were handed a spot in Gerrard’s matchday squad in a huge European fixture.
Gerrard’s set a dangerous precedent here and we really hope it doesn’t come back to bite him.
In other Rangers news, fans were wowed by this player’s “MOTM” performance versus Antwerp.