The Role of Glen Kamara in Rangers 55th Title Win-Unsung Hero?
4 days ago on March the 6th 2021 Rangers secured their 55th league title, their first in 10 years. They've secured the title in style currently 20 points clear of fierce rivals Celtic who sit in 2nd place, and with a good chunk of games still left to play. Rangers have been transformed into a force to be reckoned with once more under the fantastic management of Steven Gerrard. One of many players Who has further developed impressively under Gerrard, and who has been key in both Rangers title win and on going Europa league campaign is Finnish international midfielder Glen Kamara.
Who is Kamara?
Kamara began his career in his native Finland before moving to England to play in Southend United's academy, before moving to Arsenal in 2012, were he spent 5 fairly anonymous years. Kamara made just the 1 appearance in the league cup before a brief loan spell back at Southend and to Colchester United. Kamara then joined Scottish Premiership outfit Dundee FC where he impressed across 2 seasons before transferring to Rangers at a bargain price of £50,000 due to his contract being set to expire. Kamara is a combative central midfielder, capable of playing as a defensive midfielder. His key strengths as a player lie in his accuracy and range of passing, his dribbling ability to drive through midfield at times and his excellent positioning which enables him to make countless interceptions for his team. In the 2-0 Old Firm Derby win in October Kamara was outstanding in central midfield. On countless occasions in the match Kamara displayed his quality carrying the ball and accurately finding his teammates, his defensive contribution was also excellent winning the ball back numerous times in his own penalty area and in the congested centre of the pitch. This performance was highly notable considering the magnitude of the game and that this is a player seemingly once deemed not good enough for English football, however following this performance and his other standout performance against Benfica in Europe amongst other games, Kamara will certainly now have plenty of suitors in England should he choose to leave Rangers.
Why is Kamara important to Rangers?
Kamara starts as 1 of a midfield 3 in the virtually ever present but malleable 4-3-3 that has been deployed by Gerrard this season. Kamara is vital defensively as he often provides cover for either fullback, allowing them to utilise their attacking qualities as supported by right-back James Taverniers staggering 11 goals and 9 assists this season (at left-back Barisic has also scored 5 and layed on 8 assists in all competitions this season). As a result Kamara's cover is enabling the fullbacks to get forward and provide a big chunk of Rangers forward threat this season.
Gerrard plays a possession based style which very much suits Kamara's technical capabilities- as aforementioned Kamara is an incredibly accurate passer of the ball and very comfortable in possession. ( stats mentioned below help to highlight this). Rangers already possess sheer creativity and goal threat via Joe Aribo while Steven Davis and Ryan Jack are sound and reliable options defensively in protecting a back 4. Kamara is such an asset as he brings balance to Rangers midfield which arguably no other player does. Similarly to Mousa Dembele at Spurs a few seasons ago Kamara is so important as a ball carrier and driving the team up the pitch as a result while still competently fulfilling his duties of battling in midfield and doing enough effective defensive work.
The Underlying Stats behind Kamara's performances
Kamara has made 21 interceptions this season, for context SPL stalwart and 3 time player of the year Scott Brown ( a defensive midfielder) has only made 3. This highlights Kamara's skill as a ball winner and combative midfielder. Furthermore Kamara has also drawn 30 fouls this season, demonstrating his ability to dribble and tendency to drive through midfield, a sign of a good ball carrying player and dribbler can be their knack of drawing opposition fouls.The previously mentioned archetypal ball carrying midfielder Mousa Dembele drew 21 and 28 fouls during his peak 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons at Tottenham. Despite the apparent gap in quality between the SPL and the Premier League these numbers still remain impressive and Kamara has shown he can perform at a higher level in the Europa League and internationally with Finland.
Across his 45 appearances (in all competitions and including international appearances for Finland) Kamara has a remarkable 90.6% pass accuracy and this is from an average of a respectably high 65 passes a game. Again, for comparison highly rated Leicester Midfielder Youri Tielemans who is noted for his passing ability, and also plays in central midfield has a passing accuracy of 83% from the same number of appearances. Kamara also averages 0.9 key passes a game, compared to Tielemans 0.8, although the prior argument of difference in technical quality between the SPL still stands which may tarnish this stat. To make comparisons fair, it is worth noting it may be a little easier for Kamara playing in a team that dominates games and perhaps has the ball more than Leicester typically might do in the Premier League. Nevertheless the passing statistics clearly highlight Kamara's ability on the ball.
Overall the underlying statistics back up the claims that Kamara is a competent ball winning midfield, with great ability when it comes to carrying the ball and being precise in his passing.
With Finland making their first ever appearance in the Euros this summer, and Rangers playing at least the qualifying rounds for the champions league, Kamara's stock will only continue to rise and it will be interesting to see if he maintains his eye catching performances on the bigger stage. For now though, through evidence of his statistics and consistent performances it can be said with assertiveness that Kamara is a vital cog in Gerrard's system and a key player in Rangers successful endeavor into securing their historic 55th league title.
Written by-Joe Langlands