Steven Gerrard recently made a comment which revealed something very surprising indeed.
“(on Niko Katic’s form) And that’s probably a reason why I haven’t been able to introduce Filip Helander at the moment.”
This is more revealing than it even attests to be on the surface, because by confirming Katic’s form is why Helander isn’t playing, Gerrard has admitted three key things:
1: George Edmundson, despite impressing immensely in pre-season, is significantly down the pecking order in terms of priority. This gives some idea of the quality in depth Rangers currently have, and how admirable the situation is becoming.
2: More tellingly, that if Katic’s form is why Helander isn’t playing, Goldson is absolutely, positively confirmed as first pick defender – second name on the team sheet behind only captain James Tavernier if all is pure and holy. Gerrard doesn’t mention Goldson’s form as being a reason for Helander’s absence, only Katic’s.
3: Even more tellingly, if Goldson is first-pick and guaranteed starter, three centre backs are now vying to be his partner – they are vying for one slot.
This is an interesting dynamic. And it confirms what Ibrox Noise suggested some days ago, that Goldson, Tavernier and Jack are the three fulcrums of this Rangers squad, the mostly likely to be picked come rain or shine, with, it seems, Goldson the most assured of the lot given he has played more this season than any other player.
In fairness, Goldson’s form has got steadily better this season – he’s looked more assured, his ball use has improved a great deal, and he’s starting to act and look more like a leader now. He’s also doing much better in the air, and his winner at Killie summed up how it’s all advanced for him.
So, we can’t really complain that he’s glued to the centre back slot as long as he keeps this form up.
And Katic is entirely justifying his place too – and won’t give it up without a fight.
It leaves two (unhappy?) centre halves fighting to get in – we imagine one or both will be selected this weekend in Fife to give valuable game time, but for now, we know that Goldson is the 100% first pick and three men vie to be his partner. Katic is currently winning that battle.