I really liked my Ibrox Noise colleague’s article regarding our eighth new signing of the season so far – Northern Ireland internationalist right back, Lee Hodson. His question was, “Where does his capture leave James Tavernier”?
He went onto say:
“I am not advocating the dropping of Tavernier, he deserves better than to be dismissed off hand, and I am absolutely sure he will be working hook and by crook on his defending this summer”
…and one of his main points was:
“Why Warburton went for such a lavish international player as ‘cover’ if that was the intention”.
Which I thought was a great point to make, so much so, that it got me really thinking about what he had said, and the situation that would develop if he just stuck with Tav at right back and expected a new international 3-year-contract player, to be happy sitting on the bench each week – I doubt it!
I will take this opportunity to give as much information on each player’s attributes and leave it to you to decide what you would do if you were Mark Warburton.
Lee Hodson is a 24-year-old, Northern Ireland internationalist, who is a versatile 5’ 8” right back, who can also cover at left back when required. He played 17 games on loan from MK Dons at Kilmarnock last season in the Scottish Premiership, and played twice against Rangers, last season in the Scottish Cup games, and I’m guessing that Mark must have been very impressed with his two displays to sign him for Rangers. This will be the third time that Lee and Warburton will have worked together, from Watford to Brentford and now to Rangers – so he obviously likes him at right back in his teams, and hopefully it will turn out to be third time lucky for us.
His record of senior games are as follows:
91 for Watford in the English Championship
18 for Brentford in the English League One
51 games for MK Dons in English League One
17 with Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership League
So he has the experience to do very well, when called upon for his Rangers career.
Rangers’ winger Harry Forrester has expressed his confidence in the ability of new recruit Lee Hodson who he played with at Watford when he was 15 or 16, and believes that the full-back will bring more competition to the squad and delight the boss with his brilliant attitude. Harry went on to say,
“He is a solid full back, he is a very good defender in 1 v 1 situations and he will get forward. He is young and hungry which the gaffer loves.”
James Tavernier has never been a major success at any other club except Rangers – for the following reasons. His form is often erratic and he gives the ball away too cheaply on occasions. He is not brilliant at keeping possession, and is not a great defender, indeed sometimes downright poor. Therefore, I have to ask the question; “Why is he playing at right back in the first place”? Conclusion: I believe he is far too important a player for Rangers to be stuck in a position that does not allow him to use all of his natural abilities going forward.
His shots are as good as most top strikers and he just flows into fantastic forward positions, without considering his right back duties. When he scored against Dumbarton last season, he was in the centre forward position. What on earth was he doing there? That said, I am very pleased that he was, as it allowed him to score a good poacher’s goal, and for him to know instinctively the correct position to be in, the move ended with his resultant scoring shot. You cannot teach that to a player, he either has that ability or he hasn’t. In my opinion, the solution is to sign a top class right back / defender or to play three at the back in a brand new system that makes Rangers much harder to beat. It will automatically make us stronger in defence and play Tavernier at wing-back/right midfield – call it what you want, where he doesn’t have to back track so often, and he is closer to goal scoring opportunities, which is his true forte.
I am suggesting that Rangers play Tav in his new wing-back position in all four League Cup games in
July, and also in the two pre-season friendly games, to see if the new position can cement his place in the first team. This would leave Mark Warburton with two different options:
1. Play 3 centre-backs across the back line to make us harder to beat, and not to lose so many goals at corners and free kicks.
2. Play Lee at right back with two centre halves and a left back in a straight forward back four style of play.
Ibrox Noise welcomes your comments on all of the above.