Why is opinion so split on Rangers' Josh Windass?
As we leave Easter behind, no player in the Scottish Premier League has been directly involved in more goals than Rangers' Josh Windass. He has scored 12 and assisted on six in league play.
Windass joined Rangers to begin the 2016/17 campaign but has already established himself as perhaps the most enigmatic player to represent Gers in recent years. You could ask three fans for their opinion on Windass. It’s quite likely you would hear three entirely different opinions.
For some, statistics simply don’t tell the full story. Others have suggested that were it not for Windass’ regular contributions in the final third, Rangers would be even further away from Celtic in the SPL race. As is often the case with such topics, reality probably lies somewhere between the extremes.
Whether you rate Windass or not, 17 goals in 36 games across all competitions is an excellent return from a player typically deployed as the most advanced in a three-man central midfield.
A common gripe is that the 24-year-old drifts in and out of matches. The best example of this having some semblance of truth is the most recent Old Firm fixture. Windass scored a fantastic goal after three minutes but was largely anonymous thereafter.
Another recurring theory is that he flatters to deceive against bigger teams. He has already scored against Celtic, Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs this season. You can't please everyone.
It all comes down to people’s interpretations. Windass also draws criticism for his social media interaction.
He has reacted to opprobrium from online fans. Certain supporters believe they have the right to say what they please when and where, and the player must accept the abuse with humble deference. The ill feeling was compounded further in February. Windass bagged the opening goal away at Partick Thistle then shushed his own supporters. Not the best way to endear yourself, perhaps, but then Windass may (rightfully) feel he has been unfairly singled out when there are a number of players in Rangers’ squad who have delivered far less to date.
Interestingly, only three of his seventeen goals have been scored at Ibrox this term.
It would seem that Windass is your archetypal confidence player who feels far more at ease playing on opposition grounds. Is this because of the stick he takes from his own fans, or is he simply unable to handle the pressure of playing in front of 50,000 expectant people every week? It’s a very curious case indeed.
In footballing terms, Windass is still a young man. There’s time to add consistency to his armoury, although that may need to happen elsewhere. After a great degree of turbulence within the Rangers club since 2012, supporters' patience is running thin.
Followers have been so occupied with denying Celtic 10 league titles in a row that developing players were not afforded the time to reach their potential. It’s all about the here and now. Right now Rangers are not where fans expect them to be. Players like Windass become the collateral damage. That can only be bad news for all parties involved.