Friday, 3 August 2018

Four heroes - have they made all the difference?

We have to say there comes a point when you must start to accept what you’re seeing as not being ‘still early’ days when you’ve had 360 minutes of it.

Four matches in serious competitive action Rangers have now had, and if we wish to add Wigan and Bury to that, it’s a total of 540 minutes of football this ‘pre-season’ and just one sloppy goal conceded against a very decent Wigan side, a top class Croatian one and some slightly weaker opposition from Macedonia.

There comes a point when you start to believe this defensive unit is looking the real deal, and in every sense a true Rangers quality back line.

Let’s start at the beginning.

We love Allan McGregor. We always wanted him back, and he is the best Scottish goalkeeper of the past 15 years. The only one borderline in the same league is Craig Gordon and there’s a reason he only managed 88 appearances in five seasons for Sunderland (outwith injury) while McGregor managed over 140 for Hull in the same number of campaigns.

He has been a massive start to this incredible-looking defence – a real top-quality goalkeeper who was happily at his level in the EPL, Uefa Cup, Champions League, and for his country dozens of times. He’s marquee and we’re thrilled to have him back.

But in front of him is where the plot thickens – no one, not least of all us, knew who the hell Brighton’s Connor Goldson or ‘Slaven Belupo’s’ Nikola Katic were.

We sure as hell know who they are now. Both of these two have been magnificent. Goldson is sleeping through matches Carlos Cuellar style – it’s so easy to him, and he doesn’t even have to push himself at this current level. He is a fantastic stopper of what we’ve seen so far of him. We’re truly talking England national team level here. Perhaps not a starter, but certainly squad. We understand now why Albion fans were gutted to lose him. We will be fascinated to see how he copes against Aberdeen on Sunday.

Meanwhile his team mate Katic has the heart of a lion and for a 21-year old man, is maturing into a massive stopper. He happily gets hurt, runs his heart out for the team, and leaves it all out on the pitch. He is the ‘brawn’ to Goldson’s ‘brain’ and both work superbly together.

Then there’s Jon Flanagan. He’s been slightly up and down, but he has been playing in his weaker LB position, and when he really gets in the zone he’s a top class fullback. It must be remembered he was a massive part of that near title win alongside Gerrard at Liverpool – you don’t play fullback at Anfield if you’re not a bit decent. And he’s showing that more and more.

There is a ‘but’ – James Tavernier. He is the big weakness in this increasingly impressive rearguard. He is lucky to have the other four bail him out not to mention Daniel Candeias, but he really is the blot on what is currently developing into the best Rangers defence since the days of aforementioned Cuellar. But then, Walter kept on playing Steven Whittaker so we suppose even the best managers and defences still aren’t perfect.

That all said, what a backline Rangers seem to have now. The tests keep coming – as Andy Halliday once said ‘every match seems to be a new test’. And he was right. Aberdeen is the next one.

We can’t wait.


  1. Judas had a decent game last night. All saves you’d expect your keeper to make. 7/10

    Candeias works hard but has little quality. Hard work not enough. 6/10 and got to be benched.

  2. Tav needs support from the RW in front of him. he gets it from Candyman, he doesn't get it from Windass. So, we could move Tav forward and put Flanagan in behind him when Elton comes back. Bit harsh on Candyman though.
    Or go out and buy another RB? But we have greater need for the money elsewhere. Could Candeias play in the hole?
    I really think Morelos needs a partner, to take some of the weight. Which means 4-4-2 or 3-5-2. Or a real second striker behind him, Windass doesn't put himself about enough or stay close enough to Morelos for my liking.
    Would like to see that change tried first.

  3. Tav is receiving a pounding from IN recently. As you have mentioned regards our much improved defence who have played 360 mins of competitive football , we are heading in the right direction. 4 games , one goal against. Tav has lost one goal the same as the rest of the defence, He has also assisted Morelos superbly for the 1st goal against Osijek which is massive reason why we are through to the 3rd qualifying round. He is being judged after 3 years at Ibrox playing over 130 games for us under managers who have failed desperately. This is the 1st season where Tav will actually play with a proper defensive unit. Under a manager who has seen enough in training to announce him captain. For that to happen he must also have the respect of the players. Our Centre backs and defensive midfielders must be aware that if our fullbacks attack they need to cover the space as it is impossible to track back during a quick counter attack. I think this year Tav will have enough quality around him to really make his mark. He deserves a fresh start and our backing as captain of our club. From what i have seen he has not done much wrong this season and his goal contributions are an asset we would struggle without. WATP

  4. Tav has been defensively poor, there’s no doubt about it so stop whinging when he’s criticised. The captain should be the first name on the team sheet and for me Tav shouldn’t be. The boy Flanagan is a superior right back, every day of the week. Making Tav captain could be a big mistake but time will tell.

    1. I didn't whinge Dino i gave my opinion , i don't appreciate your comment. Tav has received a lot of criticism recently which i believe is unfounded. Its a new season and a fresh start, In the 4 games played he hasn't done much wrong and contributed massively in our progression to the 3rd round. Flanagan is maybe the better defender but offensively Tav has quality that Flanagan doesn't. A good RB/RM relationship once our LBs are fit possibly.

    2. Aye your right lets get rid of Gerrard before he makes any more mistakes

  5. Tav is probably acutely aware of the constant media criticism regarding his defensive qualities / deficiencies.
    To his credit, he has just got on with the job, despite playing alongside a number of individuals in the past few years who, basically, should have struggled to find a place on the bench at Brechin City.
    Granted, he is a bit of an enigma...but there are few players on the payroll who can deliver a better cross, or indeed strike home a penalty with such confidence.
    There is an unhealthy tendency at present to over-expect, based on past exploits.
    Patience is the thing.

  6. For me Goldson should have been made Captain on his arrival, Tav is a ticking time bomb at the back, and has been since he came to Rangers. I don't doubt his heart and hard work for the club, but he is the weak point in defence!
    Also, I cringed with fear when Halliday and Windass came on, and it's no surprise Windass was ball watching when we conceded, a total liability and Halliday just shouldn't be there! I wasn't a fan of Ryan Jack coming to Rangers, but what a game he had last night and is a starter for me come Sunday on that performance.
    All that said, we are a very much improved unit with players still to come in. We desparately need an unforgiving striker and cover for CB. We got through to the next round and that's the most important thing.
    I will be very interested to see what Gerrard will do when 10 of the 12 spfl teams park the bus in front of their 18 yard box. We shall see, but as far as I'm concerned a massive improvement from last couple of years, but still need to get rid of dead wood for better quality!

  7. The big difference is we now have leaders on the park. Look back at the last old firm at ibrox and that’s what we needed. Someone to push the team forward, we had players that we expected to do that (Dorans etc) now we have McGregor, Goldson, jack down the spine of the team. Any of those 3 could be captain and then Arfield as well that will push the team forward. We were missing a leader and now we have loads

  8. Wish people on IN would stop Defending Tav Just because hes been here for like 3yrs and is the captain and whatever other excuse

    Not mincing words ...

    Tav is not Captain Material!
    Tav is not the Quality RB to complete our backline!
    Tav is Shit at RB and i would not play him in Front of Candeias

    So the solution to the problem

    Sell Tavernier! ...Its that Simple

    Flanagan at RB
    (Sign a Covering RB)
    Goldson and Katic at CB
    (Sign 2 CBs or one Covering and use Aidan Wilson as the other)
    John at LB (Wallace for Cover)

    We need to complete the backline!
    We have the RB for the job it just needs a Reshuffle!

    So either in this window or the next we should be looking to sign

    A Covering RB for JFlan
    2 CBs or 1 with AW
    1 ST/CF until Sadiq leaves then Buy another.


  9. Think we still need our much sought left sided CB. That would allow us to push Tavernier forward and reduce some of his defensive responsibilities. But most of all we desperately need another striker. Much has been made of our defensive record so far but what about our attacking record? Playing one up front giving us just 4 goals in 4 competitive matches won't win us many games.

    1. Agree with you Mate 👍
      Once Sadiq's Loan has expired We will either need two STs or One ST and split the other Role between Hardie and Rudden.

      ...Wouldnt Keep Tav Tho

  10. The slaughtering of Tav is becoming embarrassing. Ask any supporter of BWFC how good Flanagan is these days before you start campaigning for him to be RB ahead of Tav. IN quote Flanagan as being "up and down" - so not perfect, and of course, no threat going forward. Unlike the skipper.....


By commenting on this article on, you confirm you have read and understood the site terms, conditions, and moderation parameters (provided on the home page) of doing so.