For every transfer story we bring you, for every analysis of the state of the SPFL we compose, and for every time we twaddle on about formation, the one comment we keep on getting back here at Ibrox Noise is about the defence.
It has been the most enduring theme of this transfer window, and while we have raised it in the past, we shall do so again by public demand.
We first mentioned our concerns many weeks ago, and were faced with a barrage of criticism and a touch of abuse for our troubles, but then we suffered the farce in Luxembourg and the support by and large saw what we had been banging on about.
Marseille was good. It was really good. We witnessed what effect a top-class defender can have on even the most modest of defences, and we may even have seen the birth of a very decent partnership at the back in the form of aforementioned top class defender, Bruno Alves, obviously, and his younger colleague Fabio Cardoso.
Having a genuinely top class stopper allowed the rest of the defence, and the rest of the XI, to trust themselves more, knowing a marquee centre back was protecting everything and overseeing the whole picture.
That psychological safety net really did give the others around Alves room to express themselves maybe more than they have done for months, and tonight’s win over Watford is also another step in the right direction, but the worries readers and commenters have expressed to us is the same thing we alluded to way back when – there is simply not enough depth at the back.
When Alves went off on Saturday, the defence definitely sagged. With him absent entirely v Niederkorn Rangers’ defence struggled.
On a good day we have Tavernier (maybe with a new lease of life in the Alves era), Alves himself, Cardoso and stalwart Lee Wallace.
Unfortunately the backup crew is not the embarrassment of riches Rangers arguably need for a long season in the SPL, and even more curious is the strange lack of names being linked to fill those positions.
Manager Pedro Caixinha has indeed gone on record to say he is happy with his five defenders – but surely any manager always wants to make his squad stronger? He will surely be seeking further armaments for the back.
And a fine afternoon v Marseille and a win over Watford while undeniably inspiring also does not absolutely prove the back line is sorted long term. What of injuries? Loss of form? Suspensions? Unexpected January bids for key assets? Unexpected ones before the end of this window?
Rangers are a little light at the back, and while Lee Hodson, Danny Wilson, David Bates, Ross McRorie and Myles Beerman are all honest pros, few fans can feel completely comfortable with them as the only deputies.
We are surfing on the crest of a wave of optimism following Marseille and supplemented by a decent win over a very credible EPL side in the Vicarage Road outfit (on their patch, incidentally) – but in order to cement the good things from those performances and results a few additions at the back would probably help.