Brian Laudrup. That’s the player.
There has been no player in my lifetime who has taken apart and struck fear into Celtic quite like Laudrup.
There have been others along the way who have given them a torrid time: Albertz loved huge Old Firm moments, Lovenkrands had a habit of big Old Firm goals, guys like Neil McCann and Nacho Novo would regularly give them a torrid time.
But it wasn’t Laudrup.
Laudrup was the best player in the league on a regular day, but when Old Firm days rolled around the player that was already the best in the league went up another level.
We’re now looking at a very similar situation with Ryan Kent.
From the moment he arrived on loan there were signs of it: the taking apart of Lustig to set up a Ryan Jack winner, his willingness to drive at players looking to create and in particular his desire to aim directly for their captain to set an example.
From then on, that impact has only grown.
We can talk about the goals and the assists, but what Ryan Kent has brought to the club is about much more than that.
Before Steven Gerrard arrived, Rangers were being regularly demolished in Old Firm games, had a squad of lower league players who often looked defeated before a ball was kicked and offered very little resistance.
Ryan Kent was one of the key players in changing that, even when Rangers didn’t yet have the squad strength to win the title, they now had a player who had zero respect for Celtic and instead caused them to worry.
It started out with a very clear shift in games, gone was the pattern of Celtic just playing their own game and instead we saw them now actively doubling up on Kent whenever he was in possession of the ball, including a pretty hilarious moment when Lustig could be heard desperately shouting at Forrest ahead of him to stay back to help.
It’s not difficult to see why:
Here we are 2 seasons later, Rangers sit 23 points clear at the top of the table, have just absolutely hammered Celtic 4-1 on the back of a Ryan Kent masterclass and went undefeated in Old Firm games for the first time since the 99/2000 season.
We’re now looking at a situation where players are actively backing off or literally running away to avoid having to try and make a tackle, Scott Brown has tried it several times in recent games but Kent still finds areas to isolate him and leave him for dead.
Kent’s confidence in these games has always been sky high, but it’s now at a point that he is looking for the ball constantly and you just expect him to produce the moments to decide the game.
Whether he’s on the left, on the right or has taken up a central area, Kent is constantly looking to produce that piece of magic, and he’s doing just that on a consistent basis.
It’s been a long time since Rangers were dominant in Old Firm games and even longer since they had a player who would terrorise them and treat them with contempt, thankfully this season has seen a return of both things.
There will be serious interest and big money bids coming in for Kent again this summer, but Rangers has been the perfect place for him, he loves it here and with Champions League football on the table I’m confident the current day Laudrup will still be tearing Celtic another handful of times.
Ignore the nonsense, the irrelevant and the noise 🔴⚪️🔵