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Goalscorer, hothead, hero and villain: Alfredo Morelos continues to divide opinion at Rangers

Goalscorer, hothead, hero and villain. 

Alfredo Morelos has taken on every identity during his Rangers career.

The striker has been a polarising figure since his move to Ibrox in 2017 and has the power to get fans off their feet for all the right, and wrong, reasons.  

With 77 goals in 131 games, there’s no denying the 23-year-old’s talent and importance to manager Steven Gerrard.

But a record of seven red cards in three seasons is just one of the reasons some fans see the forward as a liability, especially in big games.

His most recent dismissal came in the final moments of Rangers’ 2-1 victory over Celtic in December when he was shown a second yellow for simulation.

Referee Kevin Clancy also gave Morelos a third caution after the striker drew his hand across his throat in a gesture towards the opposition fans as he walked off the pitch. 

This was only two weeks after the striker was sent off for his wild celebrations against Motherwell, yet another example of his ill temperament.

His fiery nature is one of the reasons he’s so difficult to play against but his failure to channel that energy in the right way has made him his own worst enemy.

Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton believed his actions in the derby could have cost Rangers the league title and accused him of lacking maturity.

‘Alfredo Morelos is supposed to be a changed man but old habits seem to die hard,’ he wrote in the Daily Record.

Gerrard had no complaints with either of the decisions, perhaps sparing him public criticism because of the disciplinary improvements he had made at the start of the season. 

Before his dismissal at Motherwell, Morelos had only picked up two yellow cards in the SPL – a significant improvement from his 2018-2019 campaign.

In that season alone he received 18 bookings and was sent off five times – three of which came against Aberdeen, although one was later rescinded.

But while the Rangers boss has backed his player this season, there have been occasions when the striker’s actions have tipped him over the edge.

Gerrard was furious when Morelos was sent off for an elbow on Celtic captain Scott Brown in March last year.

‘I can’t defend him anymore. I think I’ve gone above and beyond,’ he told Sky Sports after the game. 

‘I’ll still protect him, but it gets to a line and he was probably already above that line with me. I can’t defend it anymore. I will recommend to the board that he is fined a week’s wages and I will also recommend that that money goes to the fans.’ 

But the Rangers boss has repeatedly stuck by his player and 29 goals in the current campaign justifies his stance.

The Gers are looking to stop Neil Lennon’s side from winning their ninth title in a row and Morelos is key to that mission.

The Colombian was the SPL’s top scorer last season, in spite of his suspensions, and has the most goals in all competitions for Gerrard’s team.

However, he is yet to find the net against Celtic and missed a crucial penalty in the Scottish League Cup final in December.  

Morelos has been reckless in big games, failing to keep his composure and emotions in-check and has seen red on two occasions against Rangers’ bitter rivals. 

But do his on-field actions reflect his character away from the football pitch?

One side to the striker supporters are less familiar with is his charitable efforts involving his hometown of Cerete.

In September 2019 he launched the Fundacion Alfredo Morelos in a bid to help children from the poverty-stricken area fulfill their dreams.  

The footballer is undoubtedly a hero and role model to the young people of Cerete.

That’s the personality Gerrard must force him to bring on to the pitch as Rangers prepare for the SPL run-in.

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