Patience is key as summer signing Sakala takes time to settle at Rangers

Fashion Sakala (BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)Fashion Sakala (BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)
Fashion Sakala (BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)
Can the Gers’ new hitman strut his stuff at Ibrox?

Oscar Wilde once quipped that fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months. For everybody’s sake, Rangers will be hoping that their new sartorially-monikered centre-forward lasts a little longer than that.

Fashion Sakala, aside from having a name that puts the best efforts of the Beckhams and their A-list pals to shame, has a lot to prove at Ibrox.

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The Zambia international comes with a lengthy four-year contract to see out and a reputation that includes 16 goals in 34 outings for Belgian side KV Oostende last term.

The extent to which he views those factors as albatrosses around his neck only he will know, but he also faces the unenviable task of forcing his way into a team that boasts a glittering array of attacking talent already.

Kemar Roofe opened his account for the season in a 3-0 opening day victory over Livingston, while Alfredo Morelos’ hotel car park training regime was so successful that he got the nod in the shock 1-0 defeat to against Dundee United a week later.

Meanwhile, Cedric Itten is chomping at the bit to prove that he is more than just a cameo-maker, and the irrepressible Jermain Defoe continues to defy Father Time and the best estimates of medical science to look as lethally whetted as ever.

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Kemar Roofe of Rangers celebrates with James Tavernier and Alfredo Morelos. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)Kemar Roofe of Rangers celebrates with James Tavernier and Alfredo Morelos. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Kemar Roofe of Rangers celebrates with James Tavernier and Alfredo Morelos. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

But despite that plethora of firepower milling about behind the scenes at Ibrox, it was Sakala who Steven Gerrard opted for from the first whistle in his side’s curtain-raiser against Livi.

Disappointingly, his display could be diplomatically categorised as “anonymous”.

The 24-year-old failed to register a single shot, made just five successful passes, and completed an underwhelming 35% of his total attempted actions.

Ordinarily, that would be the kind of lacklustre showing that might get a centre-forward lambasted by supporters, and there were some dissenting voices on social media wondering whether this was really the red hot goal-scoring sensation they were promised.

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But as with most things in football and in life, patience could be key to Sakala’s success.

There’s clearly a predatory streak in there somewhere. The Belgian top flight is no “farmer’s league” – don’t let the fixation on Europe’s quintet of hyper-inflated elite divisions tell you otherwise – and to average a goal almost every other game last season is an impressive feat.

Rangers fans have already been treated to a Sakala strike too, albeit one in a preseason friendly against Real Madrid.

Granted, it counted for nothing in the grand scheme of things, but the ruthlessness with which the attacker seized upon a loose ball in the centre of the park, the clean pair of heels he showed to the opposition defence, and the conviction and venom in his finish proved that he has useful traits to offer.

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The reality is that not every player is going to come in and hit the league like a juggernaut – some fireworks have longer fuses than others.

And in the meantime, that aforementioned competition for places and the absurd strength in depth it affords Gerrard can help to bed Sakala in gently, making up for his missteps if and when they come to the fore.

In short, these are still early, early days for the Zambian at Ibrox, and for the time being at least, he deserves to be cut a bit of slack.

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