“Experience” – reasoning for Ibrox shock may not stack up


Steven Gerrard’s announcement that Filip Helander’s selection on Thursday night was down to his ‘experience’ has confirmed what the manager has publicly revealed to be the reason for the surprise selection against Feyenoord.

With reports of spats internally, Nikola Katic’s omission was conspicuous, especially his complete omission and not just from the XI.

So let’s have a look at Gerrard’s reasoning and see if it stacks up, or if there’s more to this:

First off all he suggests Helander was picked for his experience. Now, on the face of it, a 26-year old would seem to have more of that than a 22-year old. But looking at Helander’s CV, while he has managed 6 Champions League appearances against some very decent teams, he achieved this himself aged just 21 for Malmo. So it was a heck of a long time ago in 2014 that he got that experience.

Then there’s the angle that he has the experience for the national side, but that’s not stopped Borna Barisic being in and out of the Rangers team despite now racking up caps for Croatia. Furthermore, crucially, prior to last night, Filip Helander had never actually played a single match in the Europa League in his entire career bar two in the qualifiers in 2013. If we’re talking about experience, Nikola Katic went through 14 legs of qualifying matches these past two seasons plus one group game.

And then there’s that complete absence from Thursday – is Steven Gerrard seriously wanting us to accept Katic wasn’t ‘experienced’ enough to make the bench but George Edmundson, who only got a couple of matches earlier in the qualifiers is?

Now, we’re not making any scurrilous accusations here, Gerrard said what he said and that’s an end of that.

But it’s clear there are holes in his reasoning, ones which may cover up this alleged spat.

It’s unfortunate, and it’s put the manager in a bit of an awkward position overall – and while this piece may sound scathing, it’s not intended to be. If there’s been a fallout then Gerrard is having to do his best to keep it in-house and not bubble out – but as we said before, if Katic isn’t involved again at the weekend, it may just be the fire under the smoke after all.


  1. Whatever way you put it a 26 year old has more experience than a 22 year old.
    There are games coming up Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, Thursday, Sunday and I reckon Katic will be in at the weekend and Hellander mid week that's what squads are for

  2. Maybe Gerrard was talking about Helanders years of experience playing in one of Europe's elite leagues where he regularly played against the likes of Milan, Inter and Juventus. Gerrard had to play Helander at some point and against Feynoord he could use Helanders extensive experience of playing in a more technical league to our advantage agains a Dutch team likely to be technically better than us.
    Gerrard also talks about using his full squad to ensure players remain fresh. It stands to reason that if he wanted to rest Katic it would be better leaving him out completely and give Edmundson a seat on the bench.

    Still never let more rational explanations get in the way of a good conspiracy theory.

  3. I'm quite cynical when Gerrard explains his reasoning some times. I'm not completely convinced as the article suggests there isnt more to it. I wonder if Gerrard just likes tinkering because we've seen it before. We were vulnerable in the air from cross balls on Thursday and it's been overlooked as we got the clean sheet. Katic was missed and I question Gerrards treatment of the guy, ok katic ain't perfect but considering he rarely costs us goals? If its rotation fair enough but when does Goldson get rested? He isnt perfect either.

  4. He also said that he will pick the players for the job at hand so one of the 4 centre halfs will be unhappy ."It doesn`t mean I don`t like them , that they have been dropped or axed ".Katics strength is his power in the air , so the manager obviously thought that this wasn`t needed and that a wee bit more subtlety on the ground would be needed in this game. Clean sheet is justification enough for the change.

  5. I think we need more rotation in defence, anyway. I would like to see how Helander and Edminson does, Bench Goldson and mix it up, a bit. See what combinations, work. I don't think there's a big spat going on, between Nicola & Stevie. But, you just never know, with Rangers. Look at the mountain out of a molehill, they made out of the Wallace/Miller affair.

  6. I really don't understand the obsession with the fact that Katic was replaced by Helander. Stevie doesn't have to explain it to anyone, although it did seem fairly obvious that Helander is a more experienced and accomplished footballer than Katic. Katic is a terrific aggressive type of defender, but Helander is clearly a more technically able player than Katic is at this stage in his development. Playing in Serie A, and a regular for Sweden gives him much more experience than Katic.

    However, the bottom line is that Stevie's priority is to win games, and HE decides who plays. As is always the case at every club, sometimes supporters don't agree with the players chosen. But as long as Rangers win their games, we should be happy and respect that the manager has got it right.

  7. Gerrard explained pre-match that leaving Katic out was tactical and I can see some logic in that. Katic is a blood and thunder type of defender and Feyenoord were expected to be much more technical playing the ball swiftly on the ground. Gerrard obviously thought Helander would be the better pick and he was right. He had a fine game. If you are going to criticise the manager for making changes that don't work (Ceptic) then at least give him credit for the ones that do. We have a squad and we need to use it to get us through the season.

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