HOW do you solve a problem like Alfredo?

If Rangers’ kit launch this week caused a kerfuffle as the ghost of Mike Ashley and Sports Direct hung over the Castore-produced home strip – Rangers immediately sent out assurances to banish anyone spooked by the claims – there was a notable absentee in the line-up.

Alfredo Morelos wasn’t there as the players did their modelling gig to promote the new kit and one can only wonder whether the spirit of the Colombian will be all that’s left at Ibrox when the season gets underway in August.

The speculation over the striker has been a steady murmur in the background since January. Press conferences at Rangers might have taken on a different hue these past few weeks as the ramifications of Covid-19 continue to be felt, but the flavour has stayed the same.Morelos’s future is rarely a subject that is off the table.

The question is, however, whether Rangers are better off with or without the colourful Colombian.

This season will carry a particular weight as Celtic look to claim an historic 10th successive title. The pressure on Steven Gerrard to put a spoke in the Parkhead side’s domestic wheel is huge.

The dilemma now is whether Morelos is a help or a hindrance in such matters.

Fit and focused, the striker is exceptional. It’s impossible to ignore his temperament but there is more to him than just that. Rangers paid just £1million to HJK Helsinki in Finland for him in 2017 and pre-Covid would have looked to command a fee at least 10 times that amount were there any suitors at the door.

Whatever the economic impact is on the virus will be felt when the window truly starts picking up speed as leagues are concluded south of the border and in Europe. If Morelos’s fee is compromised because of market forces, does it make sense to cash in the chips or do a bit of sweet-talking to get the best out of him for another season?

For a player whose off-field activities played out like a soap opera at times this year with private detectives and tampered cars, Morelos keeps fairly shtum when it comes to conversing. Interviews are rare unless conducted by the club’s in-house media team and unlike many of his contemporaries his subdued social media presence does little to amplify the sideshow that takes places away from the pitch.

He certainly doesn’t need any maximising of the drama and furore which clings to him like stale aftershave.

Underneath the turbulence is a player. His goal stats are too consistent to be otherwise.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard looked to have got the reaction he wanted from Morelos at the start of last season. Of the 29 goals that the forward netted last term, 28 came before the winter break.

But with that red card at Celtic Park as Rangers won at the home of their rivals for the first time in almost a decade – a game that continued Morelos’s wretched run against the Parkhead side, whom he has yet to score against – was the thread that started the great unravel.

Morelos’s absence as Rangers returned from Dubai was keenly felt. The promise of the opening six months in which Rangers looked as though they would push Celtic and ask questions of the Parkhead side dissipated quickly. Without Morelos and his goals, Rangers looked like a team shorn of their power and belief. Within that first month of the season resuming, the title challenge had fallen apart.

It is not a huge stretch to suggest that had the games been played to a conclusion, Celtic’s lead could have been fairly commanding in the end.

Flying and on it, Morelos is a key asset. But if the suspicion was that his focus was gone after the winter window which passed by without a move, then what is his frame of mind ahead of a season in which Gerrard badly needs a sustained challenge?

The Rangers manager will have enjoyed the scenes this past week as Liverpool claimed their first title for 30 years. A native of the Anfield side, he doesn’t need to be educated on the necessity of ending Rangers’ trophy drought.

To do so, he will need players who are all in and then some.


April… May… June. Early summer promise in blue skies and warm sunshine was the backdrop to the surrealness of lockdown and the hell of home schooling.

There would be consensus now in the theory that it takes a village to raise a child... and a vineyard to homeschool one. Attempting to educate three was quite the ride.

Free now from the constraints of googling P5 maths problems, with the books and the second career choice firmly packed away, the grey clouds and the rain have come out to mock us. Still, there is no such thing as poor weather and all that.

And as the shackles ease on lockdown and the kids have the chance to release some of the pent-up energy, where is the sense in football grounds up and down the country being locked up?

Five a-side courts and all-weather astroturf pitches at local authority facilities are chained to keep those pesky kids from trying to play.

Surely this is the perfect summer to open the gates and give youngsters the opportunity to get off the Xbox and PS4 and get a bit of a kickabout going on?

Understandably there has been some reluctance to do this in the more stringent stages of lockdown, but with children under 11 now free from social distancing measures, this seems like a sensible call and might help to offset some of the lockdown inertia.