Josh Windass must bridge the gap between expectation and reality if he is to become a success at Rangers
When the ‘Gers snapped up Windass on a pre-contract agreement in January 2016, excitement swept around Ibrox. It appeared to be a shrewd piece of business to get the promising English youngster on a Bosman (compensation aside).
Six months later, Windass arrived at Auchinehowie off the back of an outstanding season with Accrington Stanley; he found the net 17 times for the Lancashire outfit, playing an integral part in them reaching the playoff finals. It’s no wonder Arsenal were sniffing around him a year prior.
But to say he’s hardly ripped up trees in his debut season at Rangers is an understatement. It’s just not happened for Windass.
Flashes of brilliance against Celtic in an embarrassing defeat at Parkhead, and a few clever assists are as much as I can conjure together when thinking back over his season. One goal in 27 appearances isn’t going to cut it at Ibrox.
With all due respect to Accrington Stanley, this is Rangers. The pressure of playing in front of 50,000 fans every other week, and the expectation of winning every friendly, cup or league – whether it’s Brechin or Barcelona we’re up against – is a far cry from playing to crowds of a few thousand at the Crown Ground week in week out.
If Windass is to hold a place down in Pedro Caixinha’s team this year, he’ll have to get used to this, and pronto.
There’s no doubt the young Englishmen has ability. His lightning pace and direct play is something that will appeal to Caixinha’s style of play.
The Rangers manager announced his Europa league squad this week with the exception of some notable figures from last season’s team. Andy Halliday, Rob Kiernan, Harry Forrester, Michael O’Halloran, Joe Dodoo, and former Stanley teammate Matt Crooks were all absent from the submitted squad, casting a huge shadow of doubt over their Rangers futures.
The fact Windass has survived the cull, for now, says a lot for his future at Rangers. He’s now one year into his tenor at the club and it’s about time he got to grips with what it means to be a Ranger.
I’ve got no doubt about his ability. But it’s time to put it into practice and show the fans what the real Josh Windass has to offer.