Ex-Rangers captain defends Antonio Colak from ‘unfair stick’ as striker’s conversation rate highlighted

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The Ibrox legend has been pleased to see the Croatian silence some of his critics in recent games.

Barry Ferguson has leapt to the defence of Rangers striker Antonio Colak after blasting the “unfair” criticism aimed at the summer signing.

The Croatian international joined the Ibrox club from PAOK ahead of the new season as Giovanni van Bronckhorst look to add increased competition for talisman Alfredo Morelos up front.

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The 28-year-old failed to find the target on his first two competitive outings in the Scottish Premiership opener against Livingston and during the Champions League first-leg qualifying defeat to Union Saint-Gilloise.

With expectation levels understandably high, Colak received some stick for his performances but the striker has responded emphatically by scoring four times in five games.

Ex-Gers captain Ferguson believes he has now justified his place in the side ahead of Tuesday’s crucial play-off second leg against PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

Ferguson put Colak’s failure to score in the opeming matches down to a lack of service from his team-mates.

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Writing in his Daily Record column, the Light Blues hero said: “The guys coming in will only have one chance to prove they deserve the nod in Eindhoven so they have to take it.

“One man who I think has already justified his selection for the second leg is Antonio Colak.

“He’s taken a bit of unfair stick if you ask me. I know patience is in scarce supply here in Glasgow but it’s unfair to be judging a guy two games in, especially when he was largely starved of service against Livi and over in Belgium in the game with Union Saint-Gilloise.

“OK, he doesn’t link up to the same extent that Alfredo Morelos does but he’s a different kind of player and what he does do is put the ball in the back of the net. I’m delighted for the big man after the way he’s shut up a few of his critics.

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“The move that produced his goal the other night was slick and sublime but his first-time finish was just as good as the stuff Tom Lawrence, Steven Davis and James Tavernier produced in the build-up.

“I reckon he’s probably only had six proper chances since joining the club and he’s scored four of them. He’s got Morelos breathing down his neck so he needs to keep it up but I’m so impressed by what he’s done so far.

“Obviously the team has had to adjust to his style as they’d have been so used to just banging the ball up to the Buffalo when they’re under pressure.

“Colak isn’t anywhere near as affective as an out ball in that sense so they will have to come up with a solution.”

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Alfredo Morelos' red card left Rangers with nine men on the pitch.Alfredo Morelos' red card left Rangers with nine men on the pitch.
Alfredo Morelos' red card left Rangers with nine men on the pitch.

Ferguson relates the difference in playing styles between Colak and Morelos to one he experienced in his time at the club.

He stated: “We had something similar during my time at the club. We had Michael Mols, who was so good technically and would always take the ball in mo matter how much pressure he was under.

“But we alo had Jonatan Johansson who wasn’t quite as good when it came to holding up play, but what he could do was turn defences and it was just about making sure we played to his strengths.

“Gio’s side will have to do the same with Colak. They know he thrivs on balls into the box so I’d be making sure first chance the guys get to deliver into the danger zone in Eindhoven they take it.”

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