It’s no secret that Rabbi Matondo was a disappointment in his first season at Rangers. The club shelled out around £3m for the Welsh international and he arrived with high expectations.
Schalke paid around £8m for him as a youngster from Manchester City and he gained Bundesliga experience playing there. Through a couple of loan spells he got English Championship experience at Stoke and Pro League experience for Cercle Brugge. Not to mention his 11 international caps, myself, along with a lot of other fans were excited for this move.
So, what happened? Fans expected a winger with blistering pace who would drive at and beat defenders. His pace was undeniable but he looked uncomfortable playing on the right. His best work in his career had come from the left cutting inside on his right foot.
He did show moments of what he’s capable of, like at the start of the season against Hearts at Tynecastle and as a sub against St. Mirren at Ibrox towards the end of the season. Injury and being out of favour stopped him getting a solid run in the side though.
However, come this preseason he’s looked very sharp and as if he’s bulked up a bit. He looks like he’s found confidence and every time he’s been on the pitch he’s been direct and looked to beat opponents. His final ball and decision making have also been much improved, so far.
So, how big an impact could he have for Rangers this season?
His Performances so Far
Rabbi Matondo’s first appearance of the season came in the 4-0 win against Livingston at Ibrox. In his 20 minute cameo these were his numbers;
- 1 Assist
- 2 Chances Created
- 89% Pass Accuracy
- 50% Successful Dribbles (1/2)
- 2 Recoveries
- 50% Ground Duels Won (2/4)
He was so positive when he came on and it really was a great assist. The assist showed an improvement on both his final ball and decision making.
Then against PSV, he changed the game. Abdallah Sima scored the opener but he didn’t provide much else. When Rabbi Matondo came on he was positive and kept looking to get in behind the tiring PSV defence.
He was exactly what Rangers needed in the game at that point and he got us back on the front foot. These were his numbers on Tuesday;
- 1 Goal (4 Shots)
- 80% Successful Dribbles (4/5)
- 67% Ground Duels Won (4/6)
He got the ball and immediately drove at defenders and got into the box. He brought danger in the attack that had been missing most of the game. I’ll never get tired of watching the goal he scored, you would struggle to find a better counter attacking goal than that.
It was excellent work from Cantwell to burst into space and feed Dessers who played a truly wonderful pass into Matondo’s path and he finished it expertly. If the Welshman can continue to provide goals and assists like he’s done recently he can play a big part in Rangers season.
He offers pace in the forward area which the club lack. He may not be ideal for every league game but could be key in Europe when the defences are a bit more open. How have you felt about his performances so far this season?
Michael Beale on Rabbi Matondo
The manager had this to say after the game on Tuesday;
We scored two fantastic goals. I am delighted for Abdallah Sima and Rabbi Matondo. It is Rabbi’s first goal and of late he has found a real rich vein of form.
For Rabbi’s goal, Todd [Cantwell] won the ball in midfield and it was a good pass to Cyriel, but his footwork and pass was perfect for Rabbi, and it was a cool finish. At that stage we have the game where we want it and that is where the tinge of frustration is, but we have got to let that go, we need to reset and we need to make sure we perform strongly this weekend at Ross County because it is a big game for everybody.Michael Beale to RTV
I really hope the manager keeps faith in Matondo, I mean, he has to surely? Do you think he should start vs Ross County or be kept for the trip to Eindhoven?
I’ve been very encouraged by Rabbi Matondo and his recent performances against Livingston and PSV. He now just needs to be consistent and keep adding those numbers to help the team.
Where do you think his place in the team is? Does his form negate the need to bring in another winger or would you still be looking to add one?
I’d be tempted to keep him on the bench at the weekend and keep him fresh for PSV. Ross County won’t leave much in behind for him to work with but he’ll still be a great option from the bench.
Do you agree? Or would you start him on Saturday?
If you haven’t already follow us on Twitter.
Read my thoughts on the performance vs PSV here.