Steven Gerrard has reportedly made a plea to keep Josh Windass at Rangers, according to some scattered reports. Apparently, he sees him as a vital part of the squad with a big role to play in the quest to finally overhaul Celtic, and wants to keep him around.
Respectfully, we disagree.
There’s no doubt that Windass has some fine qualities as a player and is not without ability. He racked up excellent numbers of goals and assists last season and was a big part of the reason that Rangers led the league in goalscoring. So why would we want to move him on for the sake of a few million?
Well, the numbers don’t really tell the whole story. Windass is an important player because he has to be. His skillset makes him an extremely weird footballer - excellent at driving runs and powerful, composed finishes on the counter-attack, but hopeless at picking apart a settled defence, an inconsistent passer and poor decision-maker, and neglectful of his defensive duties.
Essentially, then, Windass is a luxury player who is only good in big games. He has to be accommodated by water-carriers, but struggles to produce a moment of magic to settle tight, cagey affairs, only at home in raucous end-to-end games against the better teams in the division. It’s a very odd, very rare type of player to find, but it’s hard to see how Rangers can possibly allow for that.
Rangers might do well to reinvest the money they receive on the same level of raw quality. But there’s no doubt that they could do far, far better in finding a player that fits the team. A more classic number 10, a player who can produce a moment of magic to unlock a tight defence with a deadly final ball or thrilling solo goal, would be a much more useful player to have in the squad than Windass’ bizarre talents.
There’s also the question of his mentality. Windass is said to divide opinion among the support, but the division is in reality fairly one-sided - the fans simply don’t like him. They probably have good reason not to, too - his daft social media posts, shushing the Ibrox faithful after one goal, and his obvious quest for personal glory do not endear him to those who ultimately pay his wages. That’s to say nothing of his thick-as-mince da, the tree from which the apple has thudded dead into the ground and nestled firmly against the trunk.
Finally, there’s the simple point that Windass doesn’t really want to be here - he may not be completely desperate to engineer a move away at all costs, but he clearly sees his future down south. It would be best for all parties if that were allowed to happen, and he might be replaced with a more useful player who can fit in without having to have the entire team built around him.
Caixinha attempted to use him as a peripheral option for the squad - it failed. Murty built the entire team around him, and it worked for Josh. For Rangers? Not so much. If there is an acceptable, compromising middle ground, it’s probably going to be found in Derby or Nottingham rather than in Govan.