Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Is this the REAL reason for Stevie Ger's successful start at Ibrox?

When Steven Gerrard was first appointed Rangers manager, one of the most pertinent questions being asked about his management style was the formation he’d adopt.

We looked into his past history of the systems he played under at Liverpool, and found a wild range of different options, albeit the one that the majority of observers felt was most likely was the 4-3-3 under Brendan Rodgers.

In the first few matches, Gerrard elected for 4-1-4-1 – it wasn’t a good choice. Early performances in meaningful matches were unconvincing (think Shkupi) and a number of players appeared to hate the formation and struggled; Josh Windass, Daniel Candeias, Jamie Murphy and notably Ross McCrorie.

Thankfully, unlike certain predecessors who reckoned their way was the only way, SG showed willingness to adapt, and now the 4-3-3 is the standard formation, even if some broadcasters class it as a 4-5-1.

However, the major standout about all this is just how effective Gerrard’s 4-3-3 is compared with, especially, Mark Warburton’s.

Warburton had, let’s be honest, on paper, a half decent squad – back four of Tavernier, Senderos, Wilson and Wallace, midfield of Joey Barton, Niko Kranjcar and Jordan Rossiter, with an attack of McKay, Windass, and a few bits and bobs otherwise. Not miraculous of course, but not as bad as it ended up being.

But it was a disaster, because, of course, the 4-3-3 did not work for the players we had. Warburton insisted and persisted and eventually quit because his vision didn’t work, for either the players at his disposal or the league he was competing in.

Now, we have Gerrard and his 4-3-3 – a whole new clutch of players, who just happen to fit much better into the manager’s system, and while it’s not fully there yet, there are signs this squad and this system will deal better with the SPL than Warburton’s did.

We always preached that we had no intrinsic issue with the 4-3-3 in itself, but we needed a manager to be able to adapt to matches and manage them per game – equally we needed to have the players for it too. Warburton absolutely did not.

Gerrard does – he has two strikers who can play the lone role – we think Lafferty might be at a disadvantage in the SPL over Morelos due to its physical nature and The Bold Kyle is not the strong unit his Colombian chum is, but he is nevertheless a fine option to have. Stevie also has a tonne of wingers for the flanks, and in Dorrans and Grezda attacking midfielders who can help raise Rangers. He also stocked out midfield plenty. And defence has been the best it’s been in years.

Our point – Gerrard’s 4-3-3 is just so much more believable, valid and effective than Warburton’s is – he has the ability to adapt it, and he has the players to do it with.

Times have changed.
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