Defensive disarray at Ibrox


With just six days to go till the new season starts properly in earnest at Ibrox, Rangers have certainly recruited well. Midfield has seen some real heavyweights in the guise of Niko Kranjcar and and the inimitable Joey Barton, while Northern Irland international Lee Hodson and the infinitely promising Josh Windass put pen and paper on moves north to join the ranks in Govan.

And while defence has seen aforementioned Hodson and former QPR stopper Clint Hill bolster its roster, the same old excruciating fallacies were crudely exposed by Burnley on Saturday, raising the same old concerns about them.

I feel like a stuck record, going on and on about defence, but the harsh truth is Mark Warburton’s back line has rarely looked impressive, and after well over a year of these vulnerabilities, the failure to address them has become a genuine concern.

Rangers could get away with these weaknesses in the Championship, but against Premiership opposition week in week out, it really will be another story.

One major argument fans make about our ongoing malaise back there is to wonder why a veteran defender who played at the top of the game in his (slightly) younger days in the shape of David Weir cannot seem to instill his wisdom on the players who make up the rearguard.

After 12 months of coaching this group of players, Weir seems to have, to put it bluntly, had absolutely no influence in tutoring defensive responsibility.

If anything, Rangers’ defence looks even worse now than it did last season, with Robbie Kiernan especially looking like a player regressed and utterly bereft of the understanding of the position and confidence to act on it. He seems lost, and while he is a genuinely good bloke, there are serious doubts that he has what it takes to cope with the transition to the top flight in Scotland.

Clint Hill, for his part, has not truly impressed fans, and while his influence was certainly notable against meagre opposition like East Stirling and Annan, it was absent against Burnley.

Then we have the divisive Danny Wilson; a player who will probably never truly be accepted by a great number of Rangers fans no matter what he does due to the manner in which he left. But the truth is he is arguably the highest calibre defender Rangers have, with experience of the Champions League, English Premier League and its Scottish counterpart to his name – he does lack concentration now and then, true, but at his best he is the most reliable and has bailed Kiernan out repeatedly. But he will never boast the former Wigan defender’s popularity.

The only other contender is utility man Matt Crooks, whose primary slot is defensive midfield – and he still is not even fit yet.

Hamilton on Saturday is a test. They are a bit of a step up from the Championship (they were third bottom last season, if reasonably safe from play off contention) and if Rangers’ defence manages to hold tight or look fairly solid, then the Burnley fiasco can probably be dismissed, at least for now.

But if the pattern from that match, and the one reflected in a great number of the matches Rangers lost last season against the ‘better’ sides like Falkirk, Hibs and St Johnstone continues, serious examination of the direction Rangers’ defensive unit is going will be needed, and a lot of soul searching about what solution is required must follow.

Rangers cannot go through a season of the SPL with a defence that is utterly non-cohesive, and we must trust Warburton and Weir to tinker properly and come up with the right solution come the curtain raiser.


  1. Madjid bougherra get him to play with Wilson that would sort our defence no problem. He already said it he's not looking for big money just wants to play for us again. He was a solid big defender has a decent turn of pace good in the air . To me it's a no brainer honestly

  2. The old Brazilian adage that "we dont care about defending because we will always score more goals than we concede" seems to be the philosophy at Rangers at the moment, and on the whole against lesser teams this will be true. But against the more successful well organised teams we will struggle at both ends of the park…the most successful teams always built from the back…we need to do the same.

  3. It is no co-incidence that the much maligned central back pairing have been far better when a DEFENSIVE mid field player has been played in front of them (not a sitting midfielder) and it is the system of our attacking full-backs that make this an absolute necessity and it is to be hoped that Crooks can operate there . Results of this are a proven fact.

  4. Trusting in W&W to sort it out, because if they do i think we'll win the league, and if they don't it will be a frustrating season. We need a quick CB next to Wilson. Maybe that nice Mr Lennon at Hibs would let us have (14-15 Rangers player of the year) Darren McGregor back?

  5. We all desperately want to trust in Warbs however he has had a year to sort out the defence and failed to do so.He seems to have tunnel vision when it comes to strengthening the team and concentrates on the midfield.His number one priority close season should have been a no nonsense centre back and a proven goal scorer.

  6. Towards the end of last season we were shipping 3 goals per game against the likes of Q.O.S. Raith Rovers,Falkirk and Hibs.The present back FOUR breeds absolutely no confidence for the forthcoming season.TAVERNIER cannot defend ,reminds me of STEVEN WHITTAKER,who was great going forward but useless defensively.KIERNAN and WILSON are certainly not the answer.As for WALLACE great going forward but lacks consistency.Like all TRUE BLUES I am hoping for a successful season, but until we resolve the back four issue,we may have to settle for a Top Six position. GREENOCK TEDDYBEAR Since the 1960s.

  7. You sound like an angry fan. The one's who do my nut in.

    1st Burnley are a cracking team. They have a 15m + striker who was absolutely clinical. They have knocked back 8/9m bids for their defenders. I won't be surprised to see them in the top half next year. They haven't been beat since 2015 AND FOR GOOD REASON

    2nd Our system is what leaves our Central Defenders hung out to dry. We could have Amo and Gough back there and they would still look bad. Fact is.. if you want free flowing fast football you have to commit players to it. Top teams punish our system. Burnley scored 3 and hit the post once. Other than that none of our keepers made a save. Andre Grey was ruthless.

    And 3rd You can't score over 100 goals. Win a league. Beat the tramps. Get to a cup final. And then write a piece like this as soon as you take a set back.


    We still have Rossiter Crooks Windass and Dodoo to come into that team. Dissipointed with this piece. Usually love Ibrox Noise articles. Jumping on the bandwagon after one defeat like an angry fan is not what I have come to expect.

    In WARBS we trust WATP

  8. Not sure about you,but we are just a team of old heads and same old story,paper story Kenny Miller: said We're aiming to beat Celtic to win the SPL title? at this rate we will be in bottom six fighting off last place we need too strengthen his squad this week Burnley are a good team that is all they are and if they did not lay off us we could have been red faced more than we are now Hearts turned us over most times as easy Burnley did now if Mark and co think we are so good then how come the game was done and dusted that easy are we dreaming the dream that we will beat aberdeen hearts celtic and five or six other teams when Burnley put us down like that,Mark and co need too buy now this week and say as it is and stop making us live in there dream world,your right it was a game with nothing to play for it was only there pride in wearing the Glasgow Rangers shirt and for all who paid there money to back the Team they love it looked like a bunch of nothing and it needs sorted and fast.

  9. I looked at you piece last week on "3 Reasons why Rangers can win the league" and I stated 3 reason why they won't – Wilson, Kiernan and Hill.

    I spoke to a few of my mates who were at the game and they confirmed that the defence is woefully inadequate and that Clint Hill is likely to cause many more problems than he can solve. therefore, my assertion is, I believe, still correct.

    They confirmed that this was a reality check and while Celtic haven't been overly impressive thus far, they managed to hold the EPL Champions to creditable draw last week and Rangers were thumped by the English Championship Champions this week. Whilst pre-season friendlies don't provide a realistic benchmark for the season ahead, maybe this will temper expectations slightly down Govan way.

  10. Am sick of being in this dream state thinking we are going win every thing burnley showed us the truth bottom six we going be in.

  11. That was the second time we were properly tested as a defensive unit, first being motherwell and we were lucky not to concede in that game.

    I wonder if Crooks is decent as a centre back? We have a packed midfield so it would probably be easier for him to compete for a jersey at the back. He's 6'4" I believe which is the presence we require at the back, hopefully a touch of pace too.

    Crooks could potentially save us a fortune if he's decent!!

  12. Kiernan should go,, he is not and never will be Rangers class. I have been saying all year our defence is shocking and Burnley showed how bad we really are at the back. We lost simple goals. It goes to show what a decent striker will do to us. Hill is past it, he was 3 yards off the pace against Burnley and Kranchar was posted missing. Its all well doing against the lower teams, but we must bring in quality centre halves and show Kernan, Wilson and Hill the door,, last season we did not win a game after beating Celtic, we cant afford to drop stupid points against teams as we did do last season. I wish Warbs would stop saying we will learn from our mistakes,,because they clearly dont!!

  13. Saturdays opposition was a big step up from the cup games we played previously and were caught cold at the back.

    Having played four games in nine days you would think the overall sharpness of passing, organisation, cohesiveness would have been better than Burnley's but we looked sluggish and really struggled to break them down. Halliday being played one up from Barton didn't really look comfortable.

    Understandably he had to give key guys pitch time i.e. Hill, Kranjcar & Barton, but all three looked well of the pace and may have used them in second half and gave the likes of Rossiter and Halliday a go as sitting CM's to protect the back line a bit more.

    Lessons to be learned and he will have learned a lot about the shape of the team and personel played against a better quality opposition. Has the defeat come at a good time? and given time surley Hill's experience can only help the others awareness/positioning.

    Is that not also a case for board to loosen the purse strings and allow them to go and buy a bit if quality at centre half rather than using the free or loan market, easier said than done but surely McP has a few on his radar.

    Onwards and upwards, just a few tweaks here and there and it won't be too long until we're lifting the title for the 55th time!

    • There is no money for transfer fees………take the blinkers off for once.

      We will need a minimum of £8m in soft loans to see out the season as it is.

  14. It doesn't look like Celtic are finished in the transfer market and they seem to be taking their time over quality signings as well as some players coming back from injury. I worry we cannot match them in many areas, maybe midfield with Barton but we are short of a good CB and striker, can we rely on Miller for a full season? I'll be happy if we qualify for Europe.

    • Dodoo.Miller.M O'H.Waggie.Mckay.Windass & Tavie??!
      Surely if we sort our defence our MF & forward line surely to God that will suffice??

  15. To the fans defending the result against burnley. Burnley are like rangers, have stepped up in class so to say they will be top half is utter pish. They are a wee team. Dont get me wrong there main man gray is an expensive striker i get that but apart fron him they are nothing special. If we get into europe somehow, and i mean somehow, how do fans think we will fair against european sides if burnley are smashing us. I totally agree with this article, warburton hasnt got a clue defensively and apparently neither does sir davie. We actually dont need the full backs flying forward to play nice football. There are still 6 players upfield without them, should be enough really. And lets face it our finishing is dire. We need in my opinion a whole new back four and TWO out and out centre forwards. My honest opinion is we will get 4th this season based on what i have seen. Not as good as some phantasists supporters are making us out to be.

  16. This is by far the worst defence since 1985.
    Tavie should be challenging for a place up front, Let's face it he spends 82.4 % of the time up there anyway.
    Prefer 2 defenders between now and the start of the season and hope Crooks is the business after recovering from surgery.
    Sorry fellow bearsthat's me had my wee rant for the day!!!

    • The Burnley supporters were brill on sat, singing along to penny arcade and singing , we all hate the celtic fucking brill

  17. Pre season friendly FFS Calm down.
    Yes the central defenders looked like rabbits in the headlights at times.
    Let's dissect this
    Penalty in 4th minute : extremely debatable but enough to give the CB's the colleywobbles thereafter diving into tackles against an excellent CF in Grey.
    Where was the midfield cover.
    2nd goal great ball through from Arfield splits CB's again. Clinical finish again.
    Where was the midfield cover.
    3rd goal CB's exposed again.
    Gents it was a pre season friendly, yes it showed our weaknesses but we won't be playing a team like Burnley every week.
    Judge the team and W&W after the first round of games in October.
    On the positive side Rossiter, and all the new bears are shaping up.
    We could put a team on the park to keep a clean sheet, but that is not Warburton's style.
    The way we play football is great to watch but we do need to be patient and trust the Magic Hat.

    • Bang on BeeGee, was at the game and felt the same, CB's where exposed! Rossiter is the future btw, should start most games this season in my opinion. Star in the making there!!

  18. In reply to Frank Sheerin , yes Celtic drew with Leicester but in their next game Leicester got humped 4. 0

  19. What about the defences that Cribari, Faure, Argyriou, Perry, Hegarty & Moshni played in, better than last years? Come on!!

    We only lost 7 out of 50 competitive games last season with that defence, albeit in the championship but there was premier opposition in there too!

    FFS folks is the glass not half full….

  20. Rangers fans need a reality check ,Scottish football is 30% poorer than 5years ago ,five years ago it was 30% worse than ten years before that ,rangers are on the way back from that regression ,while other Scots teams have stagnated or got worse ,we need time to build a solid team ,so support what we have and we will slowly improve our weakest positions

    • The scottish teams got better Aberdeen hearts etc only one duff team dundee utd the rest could beat any team on there day nothing less than number 1 will do for Rangers

  21. How good are the Red Imps??? How good are Astana??? Rangers are keeping clean sheets against all but a really good English side worth 3x our squad. Let's assume it was bad day at the office. I think excitement about the prospects of the season are turning into anxiety and frustration. The negative chat in here is mind boggling when warburton hasn't even played a premier league game yet ffs!

    Btw nobody knows the intentions or mind set of players when playing In friendlies. Some people just can't give 50% its all or nothing. They struggle to play in friendlies without the motivation of winning something, Its a fitness test. Nothing more.

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