A defensive debate at Ibrox


A recurring problem at Ibrox this season has been that of defence. Not fullbacks, you understand, James Tavernier and Lee Wallace have been near-faultless.

No, it is the middle of the four where concerns lie, with the initial star signing of Danny Wilson being paired with former Wigan stopper Rob Kiernan to shore up the backline.

With the former Liverpool, Blackpool and Rangers defender suffering injury, and not entirely succeeding to convince either, Mark Warburton has elected to install on-loan Tottenham Hotspur defender Dominic Ball as Kiernan’s permanent partner.

And after Wilson’s disastrous display at Easter Road as part of a back three, the ex-Bristol City defender may struggle to regain his place in front of Wes Foderingham.

However his replacement Ball made something of a calamitous error against Alloa (thankfully unpunished due to his captain’s diligence) showing he too, at a fairly tender age of 20 years is far from infallible.

Rangers’ rearguard has been exposed time and time again regardless of who the pairing at the back has been – with Warbs’ philosophies to play high and slightly distance midfield from defence, there has been a hole which the better teams have most definitely exploited.

Hibs and St Johnstone were the most notable two, with counters being Rangers’ undoing and the Ibrox men losing those matches, even if they were not completely destroyed.

While the Ball and Kiernan partnership is currently adequate enough, against the better teams in the Championship it may slightly struggle – albeit we have not seen it perform in such a scenario.

The issue one could possibly suggest is that neither Kiernan nor Ball appears to be the alpha leader in the pairing – both of these players appear to be the ‘follower’ requiring guidance from their partner, and with only Lee Wallace there to steer them may find a lack of foil a problem.

The one backup plan Warburton could certainly try would be, despite his form, is to drop Kiernan and try Wilson and Ball. Purely on the basis on a balanced partnership.

The Wilson and Kiernan pairing does not appear to convince, and Ball Kiernan may be fallible against the better teams in the division.

Thankfully Rangers will not be facing any such teams till the fifth of December when the previously-mauled Raith Rovers, currently fourth, visit Ibrox, but it is certainly an issue worth looking at if Ball Kiernan should struggle at all v Livi or St Mirren come the end of the month.


  1. perhaps we should look to broing back Gasparotto and Halkett into the squad. I would also search for another ,older,central man, after all Ball is only on loan and will no doubt go back to Spurs at the end of the season, We need to solve the problem BEFORE then so we are ready for the step up.

  2. I don't agree that Lee Wallace or James Tavernier 'have been near-faultless' in defence, but agree about or centre back partnership issue, though I think Ball and Kiernan are an improved package. Ball has made one error let's see how he responds before condeming him…true that we will need to do something for next season but Warbs, Weir and McParland will have that in hand I'm sure.

  3. I think that Lee Wallace and James Tavernier must judge when to stay in defence and when to attack. The football is great to watch but it is naive football we are playing and good European teams would murder us with this same system. This is where most of our defensive failings are coming from. I also prefer Ball and Kiernan as my two centre halves and think that Danny Wilson is too casual at times and is quite slow and not tall enough against big bustling strikers. If I can see this, then our fabulous management team of MW, DW and their new man McParland will surely sort this problem out.

  4. All 3 are lightweight and get bullied off the ball to easily,,, We need a right good strong, no nonsence, big feck off Centre Half with half a football brain,,, a strong and direct playmaking midfielder and a deadly clinical finisher for a striker,,,, Get that,, and we will pump any scottish team,, dont,,,,and we will be vurnerable to every team,,, but im sure W+W are already aware of the short falls and will sort things out for next season

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