The Importance of Morelos

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By Alistair Aird

When Alfredo Morelos dropped off his marker and made space for himself to shoot Rangers 2-0 ahead against Red Star Belgrade, he netted his 113th goal for the club. And his 45-minute appearance at Dens Park on Sunday was his 222nd in a Rangers jersey. That equates to 16,452 minutes, or an average of 74.11 minutes per appearance.

We all love the wee guy. He has been rejuvenated under Gio, and you must admit that we don’t currently have anyone in our squad that can offer the all-round qualities that he does. But just how important is El Buffalo? Taking the domestic cups out of the analysis, let’s look at how influential he is in the league and European competition.

Scottish Premiership

Morelos made his league debut against Motherwell at Fir Park on 6 August 2017. He replaced Eduardo Herrera with seven minutes to go in a match that saw Graham Dorrans score twice in a 2-1 win.

Six days later, it took the Colombian three minutes of his home debut against Hibernian to break his league duck – we eventually lost 3-2 – and since then, Morelos has added a further 67 league goals in 145 appearances. His assist tally sits at 30.

These goals are broken down as follows:





























The numbers might raise some eyebrows. He’s not a goal machine that fires in 25 to 30 goals a season yet he is still averaging a goal every 2.132 games. He has had his dry spells too, Alfie’s longest run without a league goal being nine games, something he has achieved twice, both in season 2020/21. And between 29/01/2020 and 30/12/2020, he scored only three league goals in 24 league appearances.

But such barren spells are a rarity, and Morelos has scored at least once in 57 of his 145 league appearances (40.69%).

Rangers’ record in the league matches Alfie scores in is staggering:

Played 57

Won 46

Drawn 9

Lost 2

It is evident from the above that when Alfie scores, we win more often than not (80.7%) Indeed, the last time Morelos scored in the league and we lost was on 16 December 2017 when St Johnstone came to Ibrox and won 3-1.

If you look at his 145 league appearances as a whole, the record reads:

Played 145

Won 98

Drawn 27

Lost 20

Talisman is therefore an understatement. If he doesn’t score, then his presence and ability to bring others into the attacking play – the latter being something he has improved upon significantly – is key to the van Bronckhorst blueprint. Thus, with eight league games to go, his availability is essential if we are to supplant Celtic and retain the title.


This is fast becoming Morelos’s domain. Thursday night is Buffalo Night. Rangers’ top goalscorer at this level – admittedly the previous record holder, Ally McCoist, scored most of his goals in the European Cup/Champions League – Morelos has scored 29 goals in 56 appearances. That equates to a goal every 1.931 appearances.

These goals are broken down as follows:

Champions League Qualifying 1 appearance/1 goal

Europa League Qualifying 23 appearances/13 goals

Europa League Group Stages 22 appearances/12 goals

Europa League Knockout Stages 10 appearances/3 goals

Adding into the mix that Morelos has 17 assists to his credit reinforces what he brings to the team at this level. Indispensable? The answer must be yes.

But he is teetering on the brink of a suspension. Morelos has been booked twice in the competition this season – against Lyon at Ibrox and away from home against Brondby – and according to Article 52 of the Regulations of the Europa League, he is one yellow card away from missing the next match.

If and when that one-match Europa League suspension does arrive, then the likes of Kemar Roofe will have to step up and play when Morelos is absent. Such is the importance of Morelos, our future in the tournament may well hinge on whether that happens or not.


One must surmise that barring serious injury; suspension is the only thing that will rob Gio of the chance to pick Morelos for the games that remain this season.

Although his discipline has improved markedly, we are all aware of the spate of red cards in season 2018/19. Morelos picked up a red on the opening day of the season at Pittodrie, two yellows against Ufa in the Europa League qualifying then another two reds against Aberdeen. His final dismissal of the campaign came at Parkhead in March.

Since then, he has only been dismissed twice, for two yellow cards on each occasion. He picked up a second yellow for alleged gestures made during his celebration of a goal at Fir Park in December 2019, and a fortnight later, he was sent packing at Parkhead after picking up a yellow card for ‘simulation’.

Aggression is an integral part of the Morelos game, but it is much more controlled now. In addition to the two cautions in the Europa League, Alfie has been booked seven times in the league, his most recent being for dissent when he had a goal disallowed against Motherwell at Ibrox. But even that tally doesn’t place him among the top cautioned players in the Premiership. Lewis Ferguson, Kevin van Veen, Jack Baldwin and Cammy Devlin have each accrued 10 bookings, while James Tavernier is the only Rangers player in the top 10, our skipper having picked up nine yellow cards.

Alfredo Morelos, refreshed and revitalised since Gio and his team took over, is therefore a key piece in Rangers’ silverware-chasing jigsaw. To complete the picture with one or more trophies it is imperative that that Morelos piece doesn’t go missing.

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