Monday, 17 April 2017

Gamble: has this stat justified Rangers' risky move?


While the Pedro Caixinha regime is still fledgling, and arguably cannot be fully judged yet, the board nevertheless made a massive gamble with his appointment. Fans wanted McInnes, Wright, Souness, McLeish or indeed Frank De Boer to climb the marble staircase in earnest.

Instead, Stewart Robertson, Dave King and Paul Murray hoodwinked the lot of us with the most left-field managerial appointment in Rangers’ history by making Portguese Pedro Caixinha Rangers’ new boss in replacement of Loaf Boy.

However, as much caution as we all had about this unheralded 46-year old ex-Nacional manager, and still do, his record over the course of the first four matches of his charge make for staggering reading. And if we add the tail end of Graeme Murty’s ultimately impressive tenure, the following stat really does suggest the board’s huge risk may, just may be paying off:

In the past seven matches, Rangers have scored 17 goals. Now, that is impressive but not entirely alien to Rangers fans who got used to, in the early part of his predecessor’s reign, a hell of a lot of goals too. There are two critical differences which start to force some early semblance of vindication on the board’s part for picking such an obscure sword to risk themselves on:

1: The calibre of opponent is a massive hike over the St Mirrens, Hibernians, Alloas and Dumbartons that, early on, Loaf Boy scored so many against. The fact is now it is Hamilton, Kilmarnock, Partick Thistle and Aberdeen. In other words, SPL quality rather than lower SPFL standard.

2: The defence. Oh my goodness; in seven matches against SPL opponents Rangers have conceded a remarkable two goals. Just two. And Celtic scored one of them. Pedro’s reign itself has conceded just that one goal against Motherwell, which has seen the emergence of Danny Wilson as the toast of the fans in recent memory while two youngsters in David Bates and especially the increasingly-impressive Myles Beerman have staked a very serious claim for starting berths even when senior players are fit again.

While no one would say the standard is back to the Rangers of old, it is certainly a stunning start. Defensively Walter Smith’s teams were legendarily hard to beat – Rangers, right now, have started to cultivate a little bit of that steel again, and you have to argue Caixinha’s 4-2-3-1 formation is working very well indeed.

Thistle may have been cultured and composed at the weekend with 51% possession at the half hour mark, but they were miles off being threatening and Rangers ran out comfortable and deserved winners with two goals and none in reply. That is the kind of robustness Rangers’ defence has lacked quite simply since 2012. Since the quality of player went from Carlos Bocanegra to Emilson Cribari in the matter of a month. While I will not scale the nonsense of saying our defence is as good as it was five+ years ago, it is certainly the best it has been since then. By some distance.

Although that would not be hard, would it?

Will Clint Hill and Lee Wallace simply waltz back in? In terms of performance and form, they should not; it is that simple. But Wallace is the captain and it would be a difficult decision to drop the captain in favour of a relative rookie, even if Beerman has been a revelation. As for Bates, he is still a little rough around the edges but optimistically he is a significant upgrade over Rob Kiernan, and at the least generous is absolutely no worse than him, but many would still argue for Hill back alongside Wilson regardless.

But whether it is Hill and Wilson or Wilson and Bates, Rangers’ defence has only seen two goals shipped in six weeks. That bodes exceptionally well for the long road ahead of us.

11 comments:

  1. Wallace is NOT a captain, whether he has been given the armband or not. He is a senior player, with the knowledge and experience that provides but he is not a leader on the field. While he has been out we have been improved. If he comes back into the side he should not wear he armband, simple as. Let him focus on his game and give the job of captain to someone who is better suited to it.

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    1. Don't think he should get his place back.
      Doesn't send out a good message play 3 games do nothing wrong and 3 clean sheets and dropped.
      That's just my way of thinking!!

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  2. Spot on Ibrox Noise. Good article.

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  3. Walace stood by us, but he does not have the authority or presence to be captain. Give the job short term to Miller.

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  4. With the same players as The Loaf had the transformation has been all we could have wished for so far. We clear our lines and have three, four in the box for crosses. Set pieces and corners are better handled at both ends of the pitch. If Hill is fit and rested I would play him. I would go for experience. But the two young guys have turned in the performances, no doubt about that. And I think Bates positioning has been excellent. Beerman on a run is powerful.Tough one to call.

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  5. Listen the loans will soon be gone,but hey the games are good and wins are even better but you could say we are looking at end of season games and only the two games left with Selltic will tell us how far we have come what if we get beat in both of those games where does that take us i would like to know.

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    1. Lovenkrands nailed it by looking at the results since the 5-1 game. Rangers have been beaten by 1 goal margins and then the draw last game - that's an improvement. Let's face it the season has been a bogey aye. The big test is these two games simple as that but there has been improvement that's the point.. I fancy the Gers to surprise a few people in those two games - that lot have struggled a little recently and Ped will have spotted there weakness..

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  6. Ped has got a big decision to make regards the defence for the Cup game - the fact that Bates & Beerman have stepped up when called gives him a headache. Not to forget Danny Wilson either and how he's improved after Warbuton had bolted...Gut feeling he might just go with Bates & Wilson - if Bates can handle the occasion and nerves then he will only get better..

    The RB area is my worry and Tavernier's positional problems - that said he played better in the last OF game..

    Wallace has been loyal as they come he will remain Club captain till the end of the season. It will have an effect on the team if you strip him of it now - just my humble opinion..

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  7. Against Celtic I would play Lee Hodson at RB if he is fully fit, with Hill, Wilson & Wallace as the back four. How about playing Bates as a defending midfield player to give us added cover and let everybody else attack when we have the ball.

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  8. The defence is great too see. And most of us we're blaming the players in the past. All we needed was a new manager who allows Wilson to take charge of the deffence and what a difference. But I'm also as happy to see Forrest conceding stupid goals at corners etc, must be something the team will learn from and not warburton

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  9. If Tavernier plays r.b. then Celtic will definitlely win.

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