FAR more famous and expensive footballers than John Lundstram have arrived at Rangers amid great fanfare over the years and then, for a variety of reasons, failed to live up to the expectations of supporters or justify their transfer fees.

Huge things were anticipated of, to name just a handful, Basile Boli, Tore Andre Flo, Dragan Mladenovic, Daniel Prodan, Oleg Salenko and Filip Sebo when they rocked up at the Glasgow giants. But their spells in Govan proved underwhelming and short-lived.  

Having to win every game the Ibrox club were involved in proved too much for some. Others struggled to accept the intense scrutiny they were under as well as the scathing criticism which followed poor displays and bad results. The speed of the game here was an issue for a few. Many failed to fulfil their potential because of injuries. And more than a couple were just bad buys.

It is too early, far too early, to say that Lundstram, the English midfielder who joined Rangers from Sheffield United on a free transfer in July, has been a failure in Scotland and examine the reasons why. Before the Europa League match against Lyon tonight he had played in just eight games and had only made four starts. He is still settling in to his new surroundings and needs time to adapt.

Yet, it is fair to say that fans have not witnessed the sort of form that made the 27-year-old an automatic starter in the Premier League with United for two straight seasons. Being chosen to start against a side that reached the Champions League semi-final in August last year, then, was a big opportunity for him.

Ally McCoist – allowed, unlike Celtic greats Neil Lennon and Chris Sutton, into the stadium to carry out his BT Sport punditry duties – acknowledged that he needed to start showing why his new manager Steve Gerrard was so pleased to secure his services this summer and to atone for his reckless red card in the play-off against Alashkert last month.   

“It’s a massive night for him,” the former Rangers striker and manager said. “To be far to the big fella, he’s still got to convince a lot of the supporters, the staff and probably himself too. He started okay, but there is definite improvement in him.”

Lundstram’s selection was something of a surprise. Particularly as Kemar Roofe was omitted from the starting line-up. But Gerrard clearly felt his countryman’s experience, physicality and defensive attributes would be invaluable.

He was, though, partially at fault for the opening goal in the 23rd minute. Ryan Kent lost the ball carelessly in the middle of the park and it was quickly shipped out to Karl Toko Ekambi on the left wing. The Cameroonian forward cut inside his marker and curled a sensational shot beyond the outstretched Allan McGregor and into the bottom right corner from fully 25 yards out.

It was some finish by the former Villarreal man. But he should never have been allowed to get onto his favoured right foot by his rival. The lapse in concentration was punished ruthlessly. There is no margin for error against top class continental opposition.  

Lundstram fared better in the final third than he did at the back. Just five minutes after Lyon had taken the lead he did well to burrow his way into the visitors’ area. He appealed for a penalty after being barged by Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paqueta. But Swedish referee Andreas Ekberg rightly ignored his call for a spot kick.

His dipping delivery into the Lyon box from wide on the right was crying out for Joe Aribo or Alfredo Morelos to get on the end of it. But neither of them was able to make contact. He took matters into his own hands just seconds later after good work by Ryan Kent and Morelos down the left flank. He sidestepped Maxine Caqueret and fired a shot at goal that whistled just past the right post.

Gerrard had predicted that Lundstram would add “steel and presence” to the Scottish champions midfield when he landed an individual who he had described as “a major transfer target”.

At times tonight, that was true. He complemented Steven Davis and Glen Kamara nicely in the centre of the park and won his fair share of 50-50 balls with well-timed sliding tackles. It was much better and augurs well for him going forward.

But every Rangers player needed to be at their very best to get a result against Lyon in the Group A opener and that was not the case.

Kent gave the ball away again in the 55th minute and Peter Bosz’s men capitalised. Lundstram was unable to get across to Islam Slimani before the Algerian striker slotted home from a few yards out. He still has some way to go.