Some players have real issues with discipline; that’s nothing new in football. However, to be sent off five times in a single season should surely prompt your club to re-evaluate your role in the team, shouldn’t it?
Well, after a heated Old Firm derby at the weekend, that is the exact situation Rangers find themselves in with striker Alfredo Morelos.
The talented Colombian is a truly prolific striker for Steven Gerrard’s side. Since joining the Scottish side in June 2017, he has netted 47 times in 87 games. A total of 29 of those goals have come in this season alone.
There is no denying that the Cerete-born forward is a crucial cog in the Rangers team, but his discipline record is almost as prolific as his goalscoring.
This season alone, in all competitions, he has collected himself 15 yellow cards and five red cards. Four of those dismissals have come in the Scottish Premiership. One shown to Morelos against Aberdeen was later rescinded, but it doesn’t change the issue.
The sendings off tend to be straight red cards too, meaning lengthier bans for the player.
Morelos clearly has a very short fuse, and is prone to lashing out, and the problem with that is he has now quite clearly be found out. Defenders know going into the games against him now that he will cause them real problems – and have a very real chance of scoring – but is also just as likely to lash out and be sent off if they provoke him and get under the player’s skin.
Celtic captain Scott Brown, who at this stage has turned winding up opponents into an art form, was no different in the Old Firm game at the weekend. A gentle tap on his opponent saw Morelos react with an elbow, something that in the modern game – and especially a televised one – you simply aren’t going to get away with.
It’s almost become a running joke at this point, seeing Morelos dismissed in a Rangers game, and it’s a real liability for the Scottish side. For all his goals, there needs to be real questions asked whether having to play with ten men so often is truly worth the trade off.
In the Old Firm post-match interviews – having seen his Rangers side lose 2-1 – you could see the frustration in Gerrard. He explicitly warned his player was to be fined, and his actions were no longer defensible.
Red cards sometimes happen in football. Two or three red cards in a season and you ask questions, but you can largely put it down to frustration or over-exuberance.
At five, you have a serious problem. And one that needs addressed, and that may well need to be in such a manner that sees Morelos walking the opposite way out of Ibrox.
He’s a top player, and his goals are incredibly helpful to the team, but with a discipline record as poor as his there is a real chance every time he steps on that pitch that he’s one slight aggravation away from putting his team at a severe disadvantage.
You simply can’t have that risk as a professional football club looking to continue improving and aiming for success; prolific striker or not.