In the second of today’s James Tavernier two-parter, we look, by contrast to the first part, at the negatives of Tavernier. The parts about our captain fans tear their hair out over, or plain just dislike.
Unfortunately, this piece is more damning, and has more significant negatives because Tavernier, for what he clearly does bring to the side, and as we detailed that’s quite a lot, has become a divisive figure in our squad for a very good reason. Or number of them, and here’s why.
The first basic issue fans have always had with this right back is his lousy positioning defensively. As we pointed out, when he gets it right and focuses, his defending is great. The problem is those occasions are the minority and he is frequently helplessly lost up the pitch relying on Candieas and Goldson to bail him out following yet another loss of possession and swift counter. In short, when he does it properly, he defends well, but it will never be something he’s disciplined enough to excel at regular. Frequently Rangers play with three at the back unintentionally due to another gaffe from Tavernier and he’s been the cost of many, many goals since he signed.
But this complaint has been there from the start about him. The next one is a new one.
He is absolutely, wretchedly and utterly not a captain, and ranks up there as one of the most ill-suited to the role we’ve ever had. Lee Wallace was not a great captain at times, we admit that, but Tavernier makes him look like Greig. This was a complete cock-up by Steven Gerrard to give him the armband and was based on a manager who didn’t know Rangers or the climate or fan feeling and was going by the fact he had the captaincy on an interim basis. The absolute disgrace that is Tavernier never addressing the media after a bad result (more on that one tomorrow) speaks volumes for the kind of leader he is. As did his letting Defoe take the ball during that penalty incident – it was a complete lack of leadership and capitulation to a situation which required his manager to speak out instead.
Another issue with him is his inconsistency and wasteful use of the ball. While we discussed how he is absolutely the assist king of the SPL, the more damning side of this is indeed those five wasted crosses of every six attempts. Imagine he had more consistent crossing – fault Borna Barisic all you like but when he’s actually on form his left peg is a torpedo with a radar. Tavernier, on the opposite side, just doesn’t produce anything like this and it means so many good and promising moves come to nothing.
So there you have it. The bulk of the good and bad of James Tavernier.
We will leave it to you to decide if he’s good enough, regardless of our praise in Part One.