Boydie - club wants to sell him, fans can't live without him.

Last updated : 30 January 2009 By Hobbes
Back in the day, in those 80's suburbs and school playgrounds, when I scored a goal there was only two people that I pretended to be. One was already at Rangers, the obligatory Alistair McCoist and the other I always wished would come, Gary Lineker. They were heroes, match winners, finely-tuned goal machines that seemed to produce the goods every week. More about Super later on but I've no doubt that the young Rangers supporters in today's playgrounds imagine that they are Kris Boyd. Rangers' 21st Century goal machine has been at the centre of attention in this transfer window. Although he has clearly no intention of moving from the club or his new house, the acceptance of a Birmingham City offer left the support in something of a lather. Just this week whilst keeping tab of the League Cup Semi score on the BBC website I noticed that there was a banner saying "No Boyd = No Goals = No Title". The chap in charge of the live-text summed it up simply by saying 'You do the math'.

So I duly did. It comes as no surprise that Boyd's reputation as a goal machine comes from his very impressive goal ratio. From 98 league games for Rangers Boyd has netted 75% of the time and you would come to expect that if you picked Boyd to play in the league at Ibrox he would net as his record is a whopping 92% success. Even more impressive is that in his 2 full seasons and 2 half seasons at Rangers Boyd has a strike-rate of over 1 goal in every game at home against teams in the bottom six and 86% in games away from home to the bottom six teams. A guarantee for goals, give him the chance and he'll score, the stats don't lie.

They don't of course but that's not to say that they tell the whole story. The No Boyd - No Title argument doesn't hold much weight when one knows, as we do only too well, that there has been no league flag brought home since his arrival. The reason for this last year was not dodgy officials or a fixture pile up, it was due to the fact that our form away from home to top six sides ALL SEASON was simply abysmal. If you take away the frenzy and unpredictability of the Old Firm fixture, it should be expected of any Rangers side that they win all matches at Ibrox against the other SPL sides. This does not guarantee the league but it will keep you involved in the race. What does make the difference of course are the Old Firm games and those tricky ties away from home against the better of the SPL dross. Tighter pitches, less of the ball, less chances and more motivated opponents with greater self belief are some of the reasons why these games are harder to win and why the points feel more than just three. Games where a truly creative midfielder can make that extra bit of class count and a striker needs to score exactly when asked because he might not get four or five other opportunities. He also needs to work his balls off to create the space and drag defenders around. Put simply, it's not an environment that dear Kris excels.

The statistics will show that Boyd is likely to score in just over a quarter of games away to the top six. At home against the exact same teams, the same defenders, his strike rate is back where you would expect it to be in the high 70s. But Hobbes I hear you cry, Rangers play very differently away from home and weren't most of those away appearances from the bench? Without question Rangers are more cautious away from home but that in many ways this is a response to the home side being far more adventurous and taking the game to Rangers. Obviously we have to adapt in some way and so do the players. Space and chances can be created, it is just that it takes more work than at Ibrox with a big pitch and far more of the ball. Around a third of Boyd's away appearances against the top six have been from the bench (12 from25) but only 3 of those came in the first season in a half where it perhaps became apparent that the striker wasn't cut out for these games and European adventures. One fact about Boyd's forays from the bench says a lot about his attitude. One remembers fondly Boyd's remarkable contribution to last season's League Cup Final. Remarkable in many ways but it was also the one and ONLY time that Boyd has come off the bench and scored. For someone who apparently takes great umbrage at criticism that he is not up to it when it matters, I would expect a hungrier striker to enter the pitch from the sidelines. Unlike his predecessor, who started so many games on the bench at one time that he started bringing a kettle on with him more than often made an impact when he came on. McCoist's spell on the sidelines was enforced on purpose by his manager to take him out of his comfort zone and make him a better player. The seasons that followed were testament to that. Boyd's previous manager noticed the natural talent (he gave him a contract extension within his first month in charge) but asked him to add more to his game. He refused, he was benched. McCoist responded; far too often Boyd didn't.

But even then my childhood hero was found wanting at the very top level. It was a hard fact for me to swallow but Alistair McCoist MBE didn't deliver in the Champions' League proper. Football changed greatly with it's introduction and a more technical but clinical game evolved. Basically teams learned how to defend properly (except us on numerous humiliations) and space for those poachers became less bountiful than before. Once the Champions' League was in full swing it became clear that the 'fox in the box' was heading for the endangered species list. The top goal scorers were the likes of Raul, Del Piero and Shevchenko, players who seemed to score from anywhere and would work tirelessly to do so. Even those who wanted to play on the shoulder of defenders such as van Nistelrooy and Inzaghi could never be called lazy. Looking at the current European and World Champions, it is difficult to even say where Ronaldo and Rooney play. One thing is for sure, they don't hang about and feed off scraps. They make their own glory.

Football at the very top level is light years from our current problems but the general trends still apply. The better teams can now defend a lot better, especially at home. Space for the penalty box striker in these matches is at a premium therefore it is fair to say that in these games leaving Boyd out is not the end of the world because it doesn't actually make any significant difference. As for Old Firm games and Europe, he shouldn't even be a consideration. So after doing the math as yon BBC man and those fans with the pretty banner suggested it can be argued that Boyd's many goals keep us in the hunt for the title but have no significant impact in actually deciding it.