Warburton’s defensive dilemma


If there has been a question mark over Mark Warburton’s Rangers, it has been the defence.

In truth it has not been truly tested extensively, but the one major time it was put to the sword, it sadly failed against St Johnstone.

Naturally, this is not to blame the back four for Rangers’ exit from the League Cup, but to highlight that Rangers remain a work in progress, and even Saturday’s hard-fought win over Queens saw the away side nab a counter-attack goal which, again, exposed a central defence which has overall failed to truly convince fans.

However, one distinct bright spark was that, despite said goal, Tottenham Hotspur’s on-loan centre-back Dominic Ball truly did stand out, deputising as he did for Danny Wilson who picked up an untimely tweak in training.

A routine criticism levelled at the back pairing has been their propensity to lump the ball aimlessly forward, with quite a few punts from the depths ending up leading nowhere.

However, Ball garnered a great deal of praise for his predilection for composure, and using the ball at the back in a more concentrated, constructive format. Showing a careful ability to dribble (not reckless marauding like Mohsni used to do) from the back, which essentially allowed him to assess his options while retaining the ball attracted a great deal of respect, with a high number of fans believing this partnership (Ball and Kiernan) might actually be the way forward.

This is not to say Wilson has been poor – he has not, and it would be unfair to suggest he has. But there are significant similarities between he and Kiernan, and perhaps those shared traits and a lack of diversity is not helping in Rangers’ cause to become more watertight defensively.

Ball is, of course, on loan, but his composure, brute-force defending and decision making belied his tender 20 years, and gave his manager the kind of problem he will enjoy having.

One thing is for sure – Dominic Ball has forced himself into the reckoning and might just find himself selected more often now.

It really is a good dilemma to have.


  1. Whilst Ball had a pretty solid game he did not prevent his man knocking the ball across for their goal. Lee Wallace also failed to track the scorer. My only criticism of the team is the defence which looks totally disorganised when under pressure and I am not sure wether that is down to the players or the coaching.

  2. I would agree that Ball performed well and the pairing with Kierman looks good however one thing the defence has not done this season is lump the ball aimlessly. That has not been the style and no matter the central defensive partnership that has not been done

  3. I can't see where you get "Lumping the ball aimlessly" from. You do know that Ally is no longer the manager. I've watched the majority of games this season and have not seen anthing of the kind. I'm not saying we shouldn't have any concernss about the defence but you can't make a statement like that with nothing to back it up.

  4. From my seat it was fairly obvious that Ball is a class act and had no fear in coming out with the ball along with barking orders to those around him. The trouble with the defence on Saturday, in my opinion, was that big Rob Kiernan almost looked like he was lost on the left side of the defence. Ball obviously prefers the right so Rob moved over. However he never really looked comfortable and tended to get drawn in over to the right which is only natural.

  5. Well thats funny when i was at the falkirk game, for half the match kiernan and wilson were definitely lumping the ball aimlessly up the pitch. Dont get me wrong the team is far better than mccoist ever had us but we are nothing special. We would finish fourth or fifth in spl at best. And u all know thats true if we are being honest. We try to be like barca or the gunners but we need players that are used to fast one touch football and what we have need 3 or 4 touches tbh. We need a big powerful striker

  6. I have to admit I didn't see the Falkirk game but still have to disagree about defenders lumping the ball aimlessly. Warburton's pet hate is aimless balls up the park. It's also one of the reasons why our goals have not came from headers. I agree about the comment on where we would finish in the SPL with the present team but I think we're quick to forgot that our main aim is to get out of this division as quickly as possible. I have confidence in W&W to know what's required in the playing staff once we've won the Championship.

  7. I agree with the comment about the lack of organization in the defense which was evident again on Saturday for the goal we lost. It is a concern the David has not yet sorted out these faults as they are obvious and have to be overcome as soon as possible.

  8. I think the kiernan & ball partnership looks a better centre half pairing than the kiernan & wilson partnership,also a special mention to our wee midfielder who imo doesn't get enough praise at times and is without doubt an unsung hero within our starting 11,wee jason holt is a tremendous wee player,he's brilliant at finding little pockets of space and his timing of runs from the midfield are terrific and remind me so much of our by gone day midfielders such as ian durrant and even further back alex (doddie) mcdonald!

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