The Strange Case of Rangers' missing man: Brahim Hemdani.
However, without blowing the Algerian's trumpet too much, that is exactly what we might end up doing with Brahim Hemdani.
At the beginning of the season, we embarked on our Europe adventure with a makeshift midfield. The decisions that led to Dailly & McCulloch taking a place in that side in Lithuania ahead of both Brahim Hemdani and one of the midfielders we should've signed THEN and not at the end of August could be examined until we are all blue in the face. It appeared that, as another example of the balance sheets coming before success on the park at Ibrox, Brahim Hemdani was bombed out of the team, and was not used in these games to avoid being cup-tied.
As a result, we conceded two poor goals, partly due to how fragile the midfield was, and Champions League qualification was gone. To make matters worse, our financial problems have now been exacerbated by this failure. Without being melodramatic, it's widely agreed that to recover from "Kaunas" could take us years. Which is why, in my view, not fielding Hemdani proved to be disastrous.
The Algerian is clever, has decent footwork, shows great determination, fantastic composure and most importantly: He can keep the ball!
Fast-Forward to Sunday afternoon and my goodness, how we could've done with a player in there who possessed such a basic yet vital attribute.
Instead, our 2006/2007 Player of the year remains in the reserves and has refused to budge from the club during both transfer windows of this season. Rumours suggest that our Chief Executive, Martin Bain, has reneged on a "handshake agreement" which would allow Hemdani to move on to another suitable club for free - but return if he couldn't find a club to his liking. A ludicrous sounding deal I grant you, but if the rumour proves to be true, one that yet again shows up Martin Bain's negotiation skills for what they are - pathetic. Many of our first team who received Champions League bonuses for UEFA Cup progress last season will not be complaining, however.
Out of all of this, nothing has been said to suggest that Hemdani is unwilling to feature for our first team: the omission of the Algerian has been entirely down to the club in an attempt to usher him out of the door along with his (alleged) £16,000 per week wage. This is all fine and good, and although a mite aggressive, it is also a common practice at clubs looking to cut their cloth accordingly.
But when you are paying out that £16,000 per week, when your side has practically NO midfield going into a vital European qualifier, and an inability to retain possession in the middle of the park later in the season against your greatest rival (not to mention a serious injury to the superior Kevin Thomson) then what justification can be offered for Brahim Hemdani not even receiving a look-in this season?
Why are two players - One of whom is on the same wage as Hemdani and cost £2.3m more - given the nod ahead of him when it isn't their natural position?
We continued to field Darcheville when we were desperate to get rid of him, Daniel Cousin's attitude was and is far worse than Hemdani's yet he managed to help win us one of our biggest Old Firm wins in some time on his way out of the door....
So how can our management justify depriving ourselves of the skilful Algerian's talents? Especially when it is clear his replacement isn't playing well.
Hemdani is not an exciting player - He is what he is: a Holding midfielder. But the advantage with him is that his role is clearly defined. Barry Ferguson still appears to have difficulty deciding whether or not he is an attacking or defensive midfielder - and as a result is neither, which in my view then creates the same issue with Ferguson.
I'm not suggesting Brahim Hemdani could have and will save our season - but for a Club who, in the past, threw a man straight into a European qualifier after he buggered off to the Olympics after spending most of the season injured (..and slagging off the club to his native media) and allowed their captain straight back in after he ran to the press discussing club affairs while the owner was out of the country, I really don't know why they appear to be cutting off the nose to spite the face when it comes to the Algerian.
His contribution to the club during his tenure deserves a much better ending than the one we are now seeing played out in front of our eyes.