We’ve had a very interesting argument expressed by some of our readers in response to the recent articles criticising Steven Gerrard’s apparent-uneven handling of James Tavernier and perhaps Connor Goldson compared with how he deals with other out-of-form players.
One response suggested the article was nonsense because if Sir Alex could treat Eric Cantona differently, with kid gloves, this showed that managing different players differently was valid. The difference here, clearly, is Cantona wasn’t in bad form – he was just a primadonna who had to be treated like one however he was playing in order to get the best out of him at all times. Ferguson knew that. To suggest backing Tavernier while in bad form while slating the rest for the same thing is comparable to the soft touch over Cantona rather misunderstands our point, but we do still accept the validity of the argument.
However, a surprisingly common agreement we got for the piece actually went further than just ‘unfairness’. There is clearly a difference in how Tav (and Goldson) are handled when playing poorly compared with the rest.
But some responses suggested a ‘nepotism’ angle, where the English, NI and Welsh players are treated differently, better to the Scottish players, and the likes of Greg Docherty, Andy Halliday and others suffer the brunt of this.
Because Tavernier and Goldson are English, and immune, it gave these readers grounds to believe Gerrard is pro-English (or anti Scottish), and tends to select the southern British players over our natives.
And just like we suggested the ‘managing different players when they play badly differently’ argument was poppycock, this clearly is too.
Just ask George Edmundson, Brandon Barker, Wes Foderingham and Jon Flanagan to name three.
Injuries or not, these four have been mostly out in the cold under Gerrard, and they’re all English. They’ve barely had a sniff since he took over, and it’s been Katic and Helander, Sheyi Ojo or Scott Arfield, Allan McGregor and Borna Barisic/Andy Halliday who’ve mostly occupied their slots.
And then there’s Welshman King, and NI’s Jones – both fringe players under this manager, rightly or wrongly.
Plus if we look at the Scottish players we have, Docherty aside, the only two genuinely good enough to justify their place in a Rangers-level Rangers are the best two we have – Jack and McGregor.
Halliday, Stewart and Murphy just aren’t good enough, sorry. We rated Halliday hugely till the real Borna showed up, and then a real Rangers-level left back arrived to make us forget ever making an argument for one of our own.
There is no denying Gerrard is a little uneven with his treatment of some players – look at how errors by Tavernier and Goldson are dealt with compared to how Jordan Jones got lambasted.
But to suggest it’s nationalism does seem far-fetched at best to us.
There are four critical first names on the team sheet – Goldson, Taverner, Jack and McGregor. Those are the four who play if fit. Two English, two Scottish.
We don’t think there’s a serious argument here.