Fabio Silva doesn't understand Rangers backlash as dad goes inside Alistair Johnston battle and fans turning

Rangers' Fabio Silva
-Credit: (Image: SNS Group)

Jorge Silva could sense it. Before the Old Firm derby at Ibrox, his son Fabio had impressed the Rangers support.

Without being a prolific goalscorer, the Portuguese forward had given Philippe Clement’s side fresh impetus in the title race. But after the 3-3 draw against Celtic in April which stalled their championship challenge? Silva Snr saw the tide turn against Fabio. The 21-year-old had previously been a £35million Wolves buy from FC Porto before joining Gers on loan in January.

Suddenly, Jorge would hear that price tag being mentioned more and more in Glasgow. Fabio was accused of play-acting to win his side a penalty in the fixture, with Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers adamant. But Fabio’s tendency to go to ground also irked the home fans. And as the weeks went on and Rangers shipped points at the top of the table, the flak aimed at Silva intensified. By the end of his time at Ibrox – and with the title on its way to Parkhead – he’d been slated for pointing to the name on his shirt when he scored a goal.

But as Jorge – who also acts as an advisor to his boy – assesses Fabio’s loan spell, he believes the stick was unfair. The former Portugal international says it was actually Silva who gave Clement’s team hope against Celtic in Govan – and refuses to accept that he failed to perform.

Speaking exclusively to Mailsport , Jorge said: “Fabio’s career at Rangers was in two parts. Before the 3-3 Old Firm game at Ibrox, it was fine. After that, I don’t understand why everyone seemed to change their opinion on Fabio after that game.

“People have talked to me about it, saying, ‘This is the mentality at Rangers’. But I understand Fabio’s mentality. He’s a young boy.

“Before, no one spoke about the £35m fee Wolves paid for him. Then, it was a problem.

“Before the Celtic game, everyone was happy with Fabio. They were saying he was on fire. So I don’t understand why old players from Rangers – and even some of the fans – criticised him after that Celtic game.

“It was a huge match but Rangers did NOTHING before Fabio won the penalty. He put them into the game, yet afterwards everyone was against him.

“I don’t understand that. Whenever Fabio had the ball, he always went at his opponent [Alistair Johnston] one v. one and he provoked situations. Maybe in one or two moments, he didn’t do the right thing. But that’s normal – he’s a kid.

“He got Rangers back into that game. He created another goal for the team and it was offside. But the supporters seemed to be against him afterwards. Can you imagine how that made him feel? In your own stadium, whenever you touch the ball, they’re against you?

“The boy didn’t understand why. He was just doing his best as a loan player.”

Silva had a fascinating battle with Canadian right-back Johnston on the day, with the Celtic defender conceding the penalty that gave Rangers a lifeline. He was body-checked by Johnston early in the game, which saw him writhe on the deck. On other occasions, Silva went down under challenges and was told to get up by referee John Beaton.

But his dad Jorge insists Fabio was left BLEEDING after the Old Firm clash, which proves he wasn’t feigning injury. He said: “As his father, I’m the guy who criticises my son the most, believe me.

“But not after that Celtic game. Before the match, he had treatment on his teeth. But right away, the defender from Celtic hit him with his body. Fabio was worried about his teeth.

“And at the end of his game, he had blood all over his legs. I told him afterwards that next time, he has to take photos and keep them to show everyone.

“Listen, on balance, I think it was a very good experience for him at Rangers. Fabio was looking to play and to get minutes. For six months, he didn’t play a lot of games but he got that.

“He played in big European matches so he was really happy with the move. Fabio had respect from his manager, his team-mates and the sporting director.”

But ultimately, the signing of Silva in the New Year transfer window didn’t yield silverware for Gers. Clement’s side conceded the Premiership and Scottish Cup to their bitter rivals, with the forward returning to Molineux this summer.

Jorge believes Rangers’ style of play had an impact on his son’s performances, with injuries forcing him to be deployed mostly on the left flank. But he still maintains that the experience in Glasgow will have improved Fabio as a player. He said: “The way Rangers play, the main idea of it is probably not a possession game.

“It’s normally crosses from James Tavernier or Ridvan Yilmaz, long balls and physical situations. For Fabio, that’s sometimes not the best way for his abilities.

“But we’ve always told him that he has to become a more complete player. Because of injuries, he had to play as a winger at Rangers.

Rangers' Fabio Silva questions referee John Beaton
Fabio Silva

“He played there for PSV the year before. But playing as a winger for PSV is different to playing as a winger for Rangers.

“At PSV, Ruud van Nistelrooy started Fabio on the left but played him close to the striker Luuk de Jong. That’s why it was different.

“Philippe said at the beginning he wanted a different No.9 to the ones he already had in the team. I know Fabio is not a top scorer at this time. The manager knew this too.

“But when Fabio arrived, Cyriel Dessers started to score more goals. Now, I’m not saying it was because of Fabio but maybe his movement gave Dessers more space to score?

“Unfortunately, with the problems Philippe had, Fabio had to be a winger. And for us it was good for him to play in a different position.

“He has recently trained with the Portugal national squad because some of the Under-21 players were called up to help in training. The coach, Roberto Martinez, congratulated him on a very good season. He said that by seeing Fabio in a new position, it gives Portugal more options.

“It has been good for his development because he is still only 21. It was a great experience for him. Rangers as a club is amazing, it’s a huge club.”