Steven Gerrard may disagree, but we can’t help but be impressed by Alfredo Morelos’ penchant for goals and f*cking lunacy at Rangers this season.
Morelos currently leads the Scottish Premiership goalscoring charts this season and has scored 29 goals in all competitions, despite missing 10 matches due to suspension as well as a further four hours and 13 minutes of action in the five games he has received a red card in (stat courtesy of The Guardian’s Barry Glendenning).
We’ve ranked those red cards in order of lunacy, starting with the least crazy, and the upshot is that Morelos seems to be trying to outdo his previous effort every time he gets sent off.
Moreles had already been involved in four Europa League qualifiers but set his stall out for the Scottish Premiership campaign ahead by getting sent off just 12 minutes into the opening league fixture of the season.
The striker kicked out after a provocative push from Scott McKenna – which has become a theme throughout the season to date – by kicking out at the Dons defender off the ball.
This seemed pretty harsh, and Rangers boss Steven Gerrard stuck up for his striker after his side were denied what would have been an impressive victory by Bruce Anderson’s equaliser two minutes into stoppage time.
“I think when you do stuff like that, when you react like that, you leave officials with decisions to make,” Gerrard said.
“So, we will speak to him about the part he has played in it. But we feel hard done by because we felt he was provoked twice with violent barges [from McKenna]. No way in the world was his kick-out violent. So, we didn’t think he deserved a red.
“He needs to learn and be ready for that. I can’t prove that’s the case, but two violent barges by McKenna, it seems people are out to wind him up, yeah.”
Keep your eyes on the top left corner for the fairly innocuous challenge, which was later downgraded to a yellow card.
Before August was over Morelos already had six goals and two red cards to his name.
Rangers travelled to Russia holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg and doubled their advantage early on through Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria.
But Morelos picked up a stupid red card only six minutes after Dmitri Sysuev’s equaliser on the night, collecting quickfire bookings for kicking the ball away and then dissent.
To make Rangers’ task even more difficult, former Liverpool defender Jon Flanagan was also sent off after collecting his second yellow card in the 66th minute, but the Scottish outfit somehow managed to hold on to qualify for the Europa League group stages.
And Gerrard again defended the Colombia international.
“Alfredo is an incredible footballer,” he said, “but he’s still a young footballer and I think it helps him that I’ve been a young footballer, someone who has made mistakes myself.
“The important thing is to learn, but to learn as quick as you can. The same goes for Jon, he’s more experienced, but should know better.
“But players don’t make mistakes on purpose. Sometimes the decisions were harsh and I thought in Alfredo’s case the decision was very harsh, so I feel for him.
“I’ve said before I love the player and I love the person, but at the same time all my players need to learn quick that when you come away in Europe sometimes the decisions are not the same as domestically and we have to find some discipline because as a group ours hasn’t been good enough so far.”
We’re not exactly sure why, but Morelos really doesn’t seem to like playing against Aberdeen, and he collected his second red card against the Dons this season in a 1-0 defeat at Ibrox at the start of the December.
Scott McKenna, the striker’s old adversary from the first clash of the season, had put Aberdeen ahead early on, but Rangers should have been able to take the initiative after Sam Gosgrove was sent off just after the half-hour mark for the visitors.
Yet Morelos once again allowed frustration to get the better of him as he collected a second booking after catching Graeme Shinnie with a swinging arm.
By this point, Gerrard was starting to rue his players’ ill-discipline, saying: “Alfredo’s first yellow for me is a little bit soft but it was probably a foul. The second one he deserves. But it’s not important – we’ve got another red card which is hugely frustrating.
“We could’ve had another one. [Kyle] Lafferty’s on a yellow but he is giving a foul away and gives away another – you’re leaving the referee with an opportunity to make it nine.”
You know things have gotten slightly ridiculous when you can find a YouTube compilation titled ‘All Alfredo Morelos red cards against Aberdeen this season’.
Yet again, a clash with Scott McKenna proved Morelos’ downfall, with both players appearing to kick out at each other after a clash near the goalline.
Both players were sent off, and Rangers went on to win 4-2, with Morelos having already scored twice in the first half.
And Gerrard again tried to be measured in his analysis of Morelos’ red.
“I’m doing everything in my power to help the kid grow,” Gerrard said.
“I haven’t had the chance to analyse the incident so I can’t tell you if Scott deserved a red or whether Alfredo did. They’ve had a fantastic battle up until that point.
“But if Alfredo is in the wrong, he’ll deserve the red card. He’ll then be missing for two games and that’s how he’ll get punished because he hates missing games.”
We have some sympathy with Morelos on this one. Sure, it’s a stonewall red card – he elbowed Scott Brown in the head FFS – but Ryan Kent managed to punch the Celtic captain in the face in front of the referee and escape without a card.
But this was the final straw for Gerrard, who slammed the striker’s actions after Rangers were beaten 2-1 late on in the Old Firm Derby.
“I’ll deal with that, internally. He’ll be punished. The punishment will be financial,” he told Sky Sports.
“The money will go to the supporters that came here today. I think that’s only right. He let his team-mates and the cub down again.
“I’ve gone above and beyond with Morelos. I can’t defend that. He’ll be fined a week’s wages and I’ll recommend to the board it goes to the fans who came today.”