Steven Gerrard admits Rangers have only got themselves to blame for not finishing off their Europa League opener with Shkupi. If it wasn’t for the late penalty, we would have been under lots of pressure this Tuesday in Macedonia and may still be.
Stevie still has James Tavernier bombing up the park too often, leaving vital space behind him to be exploited by the opposition. Good teams will take advantage of this deficiency in our defence. Fans have been vocal online complaining about this problem.
The captain was, however, a great outlet down our right side, with piercing runs and dangerous crosses. Got the assist for the opener before crucially converting the penalty late on to give his side a 2-0 win. My man of the match was very close between Murphy and Tavernier. Murphy got my vote!
It is early days and Gerrard will have to sort it out, but it has to be done quickly before it leads to avoidable goals. Apart from his defensive indiscipline, Gerrard would be pleased enough with his captain’s solid attacking performance.
The answer of course is to play with three, tall, athletic and physical titans at centre back, to accommodate Tavernier as our right-wing-back and Declan John on the left – problem solved.
The question is whether Gerrard wants a three. Connor Goldson claimed they have practised a trio at the back in training; Jon Flanagan is a very good footballer who has performed extremely well in both Ibrox games, but he is a right footed defensive player being fitted into the side as a left back, and I feel this new side if playing with 3 at the back, would benefit greatly with either John or even Jamie Murphy being given the freedom to attack much more in the left-wing-back position.
And to protect it, 6’ 3” Ross McCrorie is doing an ok job at the moment, but Stevie G may want to go with more power in the middle of the park, as he signed 22-year-old, 6’ tall versatile midfielder Lassana Coulibaly to add more physicality and steel into the midfield. In the difficult away games he may want to play both of them giving a sturdy three at the back shielded by two strong anchors.
It’s all about experimentation right now – new squad new players new system.
Stevie will have to tinker to get the balance right.