With Rangers lagging behind Celtic in the Scottish Premier League, former US national team coach Bruce Arena thinks they should turn to summer-signing Maurice Edu.
The US international midfield made the trip from Toronto FC to Rangers in August. A plucky holding midfielder, Edu has started only two games, but Arena thinks that should change. His advice to Rangers boss Walter Smith is to play the youngster.
"Maurice is a player who can step up to that kind of
pressure and do well," Arena said to the Daily Mail.
"It's always a difficult time when you are a scrambling
in a title race. Rangers are chasing Celtic and it can feel like an awkward
time to introduce young players to the starting line-up.
"But there is no better way to really see the kind of
potential a player has. If Walter feels comfortable that he can place Maurice
on the field, then, within no more than a couple of games, Maurice will show
the qualities that he has. I'm sure he is a player who can help Rangers in
their current situation.
"Rangers have paid good money for him and that is another
reason why he probably needs to play more. The club has made an investment, so
the quicker they can bring him on, the better it is for everyone. But Walter is a very experienced manager and my view is
that he will make a good decision in this situation. He has seen a lot of
young, promising players come and go and I'm sure he will understand when it is
the right time to introduce Maurice to the Rangers first team on a permanent
Edu cost $5 million, but has seen scarce time aside from with the reserve squad, rarely making the 18-man squad lists on game days. Still only 22, Edu has plenty of room to develop, and Arena thinks he has the ability to do so.
"Right now, Maurice lacks experience, but he has the
tools to become a very good player indeed. There is a great deal of promise
there. It was always going to take him time to adapt to the
different demands of professional football in Scotland but he has the right
kind of self-confidence and I'm sure he has faith in himself making the
"I know coach Bradley thinks a lot of Maurice and will be
keeping an eye on him," said the LA Galaxy head coach and general manager.
Arena then went on to discuss the habits of Americans in Europe, and the extended time needed for cultural and play adjustments.
"In America, though, we have been through this situation
with a lot of players - DaMarcus Beasley is one example who has had similar
experiences in the past.
"The unfortunate thing for American players is that,
because of their lack of exposure to high-level games on a consistent basis in
the States, they tend to be a little bit up and down when they move overseas.
"They take a little bit longer to establish themselves
but, once they cross that bridge, they tend to have a very strong quality to
them and are players who can really help teams.
"With the right period of adjustment, Maurice will be a
strong contributor to Rangers.
"America needs more players playing in a better
environment. Seeing a player like Edu move to Rangers motivates other young
players in America to improve their standard, so that they might get a European
opportunity of their own.
"Everyone here is hoping he will establish himself in
Scotland and I'm sure he will."
One player who will be cheering Edu on from this side of the Atlantic is Stuart Holden. A Scottish native, Holden is teammates with Edu on the youth US international teams.
"I've spoken to Mo a few times as he's a good friend
of mine from the Olympics team," said the Houston Dynamo midfielder to the Herald. "I know he's found himself stuck behind some
good players at Rangers and hasn't played as much as he would have liked.
That's part of being a professional sometimes and he'll get through that, and
I'm sure he'll get his chance.
"I think Maurice is a very good player. I saw what
he could do when we were at the Olympics, but he's still a young guy and I
think he will be a big player for Rangers in the years to come."
--Zac Lee Rigg, Goal.com