Monday, 27 August 2018

The Trouble with Tavernier

A lot of issues have been raised following yesterday’s tough encounter in Motherwell, but one of the most recurring has been back to the old ‘taboo topic’ of our captain James Tavernier.

Ibrox Noise recently gave him a 6/10 following his defensive weaknesses at Killie, despite the assists, and was greeted with a lot of ire and some outright demands we raise it to 8. We detected this ire was thanks to the fact his failings in that match had not cost the win.

Yesterday, however, the feedback has been much different – similar defensive lapses, bad positioning, carelessness, and poor tracking (plus attacking assists) has seen comments objecting to us giving him the same score – now it’s too high!

This remains the critical problem with a right back who had improved his defensive responsibilities of late possibly with Stevie’s help but in the past two matches has reverted back to the weak, soft-centred liability he will always be in that position.

We remain convinced he was the wrong choice for captain. He will never turn us around on that one given we’ve had three years of this guy and we think we know by now exactly what kind of a right back and player he is.

Going forward, James Tavernier is clearly an asset. Quick, mostly a good crosser, good understanding with Daniel Candeias, nifty on the touch and move and one twos, Tavernier delivers pretty effectively going forward.

But time time and time again he has proven himself simply not focused, sharp, or plain good enough to deliver the defensive side over a sustained period of time.

And as it did yesterday, it will cost us points. Against Kilmarnock it didn’t, and the ex-Wigan man was the toast of fans despite Jordan Jones clearly having him on the same stuff. But when it costs valuable points and goals, fans sit up and take notice.

Stevie hasn’t made too many mistakes up to this point – yesterday was definitely an all round glitch as part of the learning curve. But the clear early one in his regime was making Tavernier the captain and installing him as a critical part of the team.

This isn’t meant to be a sustained, brutal attack on the guy. He isn’t a bad chap and seems fairly bright and with a sunny outlook – and we have consistently praised his attacking contributions over the years.

But he’s a right back. And that’s where he earns his real corn. And the defensive side of his game is quite simply not good enough for Rangers to continue to grow.

What we do about that is not clear, but it’s up to Stevie.

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