We Need Defenders!

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With today’s confirmed signing of
Ricky Foster, Rangers have acquired their second fullback in a row. Not only
that, but their second ex-player in a row following Steven Smith’s re-entry to Glasgow’s south side after a spell in North
America. Whether or not fans are in favour of former Ibrox stars
returning to Govan is open to debate, but one thing is for sure now; Ally
McCoist’s men are rather stocked up in the wingback berths.
Lee Wallace and Steven Smith on
the left, Andrew Mitchell and Ricky Foster (and Anestis Argyriou, technically
speaking) on the right. While hardly Alves and Alba, it is still a pretty
robust collection of fullbacks for a team in the second division.
However, the critical issue
remains of the two central defensive positions. Quite simply, Emilson Cribari
and Ross Perry were poor last season. In Scotland’s
bottom tier the former Napoli defender and the
previous fringe Ibrox starlet were completely exposed and plenty of agonising
goals were conceded thanks to appalling positional sense, dreadful
communication, and a blatant lack of pace.
It is clear work is desperately
needed in this vital position on the park – it may be a cliché but it is entirely
true that a team’s foundations are built around its defence. With Foster, Bell, and Wallace
confirmed for next season, the wet mud is in place for aforementioned
stanchions, and concrete needs to fill the empty spaces.
It has been mooted that former
under-21 French defender Sebastien Faure (now 22) and under-17 Canadian
international Luca Gasparotto (now a mere 17) may be targeted for the 2
defensive slots but this is speculative. It is unlikely any manager would wish
to risk a 17 year old lad, no matter how promising he is, in such a critical
position as a first-pick with the pressure that goes with it when older players
than he struggled massively under similar pressure.
As for Faure, he remains
something of a relatively unknown quantity at Ibrox despite several
appearances. While not disgracing himself by any manner of means, the young Frenchman
did not assert himself as guaranteed first-team fodder albeit he certainly did
no worse than the likes of Cribari and Perry in the middle.
There is also the rather
depressing notion of Jon Daly and Lee McCulloch being slotted in the centre – 2
players whose primary positions are not defensive and the knowledge that Jig
struggled there when he was utilised at the back last season. It is not an
ideal solution by any means.
It is pretty sure-fire that
Rangers require two trustworthy and decent stoppers. Two new signings, on a
Bosman of course, who can vastly improve this horrendous defence as
first-choices while the likes of Luca and Faure can be excellent squad depth in
backup.
Names recently linked loosely as
new acquisitions include Andy Webster, Danny Wilson, and Cristophe Berra.
It is safe to say the name of
Webster sends shivers down the spines of fans. A dismal failure during his
first spell, Andy was at Ibrox for around 3 seasons and made a pathetic 2
appearances during that time. There is no denying he actually did not play too
badly when he did play but 2
appearances in over a thousand days is a quite catastrophic return. Questions
have been asked about his mental strength and ability to cope with life at
Ibrox, the suggestion being made he lacked good old-fashioned ‘bottle’. So this
would not be a popular signing if it took place.
Then there is Wilson – a player
who left rather ignominiously and was somewhat condemned for chasing the dream
at Liverpool first chance he got. Danny was an
excellent defender at Ibrox during his brief spell of breaking through, but his
career has gone utterly downhill since departing. The epitome of his post-Ibrox
failure was joining a club who ended up in admin, and his contract being ripped
up. Wilson is
now without a club. Would Rangers fans like him back? The overwhelming
consensus is ‘yes’.
And lastly Berra. More of a
postulated signing than concrete evidence to support his arrival, Berra is yet
another Hearts link who has had a decent career in England to tell the truth. He is
another free agent, whose time at Wolves has come to an end and aged 28 may
still feel he has more in him than plying his trade in the Scottish second
division.
A major problem Rangers have not
enough tangible defenders have been solidly pursued by management. At least,
not enough that the fans are aware of. McCoist admits signings are desperately
required at the back:
            “I’m delighted with the signings we
have made. We would still like to strengthen, especially in the centre-back area
– that would be ideal.”
This is a very polite way of
saying new signatures are absolutely essential. But while midfielder after
striker after goalkeeper after wingback have either joined or been linked,
there really has been a conspicuous lack of centrebacks being mooted for a
switch to Govan. Webster and Wilson are the only two links being widely
discussed and nothing official has been offered to verify interest in either.
It is not quite panic stations
given there is quite a long time before next season starts in earnest, but
McCoist has endowed his squad rather well thus far – it crucially needs the
finishing touch with two defenders or there will be big holes. And with the 95%
certainty that both Carlos Bocanegra and Dorin Goian will be permanent departures
in the coming weeks, the lack of quality CB’s is a huge concern.
The rebuild is almost there. But
it requires a rather large couple of cherries on top to complete the cake.

1 COMMENT

  1. Given the additions up front, McCulloch likely to play at the back more often than not. Worth it for what he brings to the team, he should also help develop a younger player, Gasparotto, Hegarty or Faure. I would suggest one other experienced CB to spell him out. That would imply a No for Wilson, much as I would like him. Berra or Zaliuskas a better idea.

    Bigger problem may be getting rid of those who have been tried and tested and found wanting. We cannot run with too big a squad and those who failed last year need cut loose. But not if we have to pay their contracts up.

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