The return of Robbie


If there is one thing Rangers fans have been unified in agreement on this season, it has been the disastrous form of Robbie Kiernan. He was never exactly the most highly-rated defender to don the Light Blue, although last season many supporters blamed Danny Wilson far more vigorously than Robbie for the many defensive calamities that beset the side.

It was not until the drop of form post-Old Firm semi of last season, a drop which continued onto this season that fans started to make Kiernan a blatant scapegoat for the travails the side was suffering at the back; in all honesty, these accusations were far from wide of the mark, and the former Wigan defender was frankly playing abominably.

An inability to win anything aerially, while being cursed with absolutely no positional sense at all, Kiernan’s inclusion in XI after XI drew collective groans from fans every time they saw his name, and it came to a brutal head with his absolute nightmare at Parkhead in which many argue he was hugely at fault for all three of the goals conceded before he went off injured.

He did not feature at all for some games after that, with Warbs flirting between Wilson, Hill and Senderos for the centre-half slots, and only returned to the fold on the 14th of last month for the trip to Inverness. And while we still are not quite at Sir Davie of Weir levels, it is becoming obvious with each passing game that Kiernan has started to regain a bit of the form which he had in February, a period which saw Rangers concede (and score) very few indeed. That was his most assured spell at Ibrox, and ever since his surprisingly decent display at Hampden where his last-minute blocks and regular interceptions helped prevent a cricket score, he has just started to look a little more reliable.

Do not misunderstand me – he is someway off the level we expect from a Rangers defender, the kind of level we probably expected from Philippe Senderos, in truth, but for now the Kiernan Hill partnership is just about working.

It has its weaknesses – with a total lack of pace, it can be painfully exposed, and neither of them is massively blessed with a good reading of the game which exposes it further. Kiernan remains abysmal in the air, and can look rather lost at times.

But a tactical switch against Killie saw bigger numbers coming back to support them more frequently, with two defensive banks of four quite a regular occurrence in that match, which gave the two defenders a bit of insurance.

On top of Kiernan’s modestly improved form Rangers’ defence just looks, for now, a little more robust. For a backline panned by all and sundry, it must be pointed out in the past eight games since being dispatched with ease by Celtic, it has conceded a bearable four goals, which has included matches against the top three sides (at the time) in Scotland in Celtic, Aberdeen and St Johnstone.

So clearly something is just shifting into place a little more effectively, and Kiernan’s form is both helping that and itself probably helped by that.

Whatever works, whatever works.


  1. I have seen enough of Rob to know that while he is whole hearted he is a bomb scare in defense. He is not commanding in the air and is to often out of position.

  2. Disagree with you to an extent blue noise regarding clint hill.You say he can't read a game,i think he's a good reader of the game and very good in the air.His weakness is lack of pace but remember he is 38 years old!!

  3. Hill is actally a very good reader of the game and is excellent in the air.
    Like any 38 year old he does lack pace.

    Kiernan can learn a lot from Hill but his biggest asset is he actually is reasonably quick for a CB.

    Quite an ill informed article.

    • At no point did I claim Hill wasn't good in the air. Only Rob. The article is about Kiernan and one opinion in one line that Hill doesn't read the game as well as the likes of Weir makes the whole article ill-informed? Bit of an unfair comment. But thank you for taking the time to read.

    • I agree with your reply and also pleased to have you back on line, I think ML has been reading a different article. Overall your summing up and report was informative and fairly accurate.

    • Don't know it would be "solved' Zippy, but that would probably go a long way to strengthening the defence. most of our problems stem from the lack of pace in our CB's, their vulnerability in the air, and our 4-3-3 formation.
      To play 4-3-3, with attacking full backs you need very quick and skillful centre backs. That allows them to play a bit higher up the park, closer to their midfielders, knowing that they have the pace to chase down any ball that is played in behind them.
      If the CB's are slow they have to play deeper to cut out balls being played in behind them. That leaves more space in front, between the CB's and their midfield, for opponents to move into and run at the CB's. They are, of course, exposed on the flanks as well.
      Rangers have four "recognised CB's. They are all slow and only Wilson has half decent distribution skills for playing out from the back. Only one of them, Senderos is any good in the air at set pieces. So we are vulnerable there too.
      Even Bacelona's excellent CB's have full backs with very fast recovery pace when Barca lose the ball. They also have excellent players playing in the defensive midfield role in front of them. Either, Sergio Busquets or Javier Mascherano. We have a promising young player in Jordan Rossiter, but we have been playing Joey Barton there or Andy Halliday. They are both slow. Barton can tackle a bit and is fairly robust in a tussle for the ball. Halliday can't tackle at all and is a total lightweight who gets brushed off all too easily.
      In short, we cannot go on trying to play 4-3-3 with the players we have. It is nonsensical to continue down that path at present. Until we can get in some good quick CB's we must go 4-2-3-1. They need full backs who stay at home mostly and tuck in a little. They need TWO reasonably quick DM's in front of them. DM's that can tackle and don't get brushed aside easily. Rossiter and Matt Crooks might be the answer there. It is not Barton and it is certainly not Andy Halliday.
      It is no good beating "lesser sides" using 4-3-3, when we are not put under any pressure. When we play teams that use quick counter attacks, in numbers, or teams that really press high up, like Celtic, we'll keep getting into trouble. We need a settled 4-2-3-1 formation that suits the players that we have. No good making "one off" changes like we did at Hampden. The were a bit tighter in defence, but a lack of match practice, using that better formation, was evident throughout the game. We also had the wrong players in the wrong positions, in my opinion.

      I think this would be our best 4-2-3-1 selection.

      Tavernier, Senderos, Wilson, Wallace:
      Rossiter, Crooks:
      O'Halloran, Windass, Forrester:

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