Sunday, 20 October 2019

Three-man Rangers puzzle which doesn't make sense


James Tavernier, Connor Goldson and perhaps Sheyi Ojo seem to be the players right now mostly in the line of sight.

While all three of these players have (varying levels of) positive contribution, generally they appear to be the players who divide the fans the most, and defensively speaking Tavernier and Goldson stand out as the biggest culprits for goals conceded.

In the past three matches, Rangers have shipped 3 goals and five points, and all 3 goals have been massively down to Tavernier, Goldson or both.

Now, it’s easy to point the finger of blame, and yes, if we here at Ibrox Noise were the manager none of these guys would be guaranteed in the starting XI with only Tavernier a strong contender.

Because, you see, Tav simply isn’t a defender – Borna Barisic is a proper fullback, and now that he’s settled in the left flank is pretty tight, both in defence and attack. But Tavernier doesn’t have the discipline to play like that – he’s all gung-ho and flair attacking without much care for what happens behind him.

And that’s just his style. Always was.

The problem doesn’t lie with Tavernier, Goldson or indeed Ojo, although we’ll discuss Ojo more later.

The problem lies with the man who has continually picked them no matter how they play. The man who rarely to never criticises them – Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard has mostly done a stellar job bringing us our Rangers back, but when he became manager he explained no one was untouchable and they had to prove themselves. No one who wasn’t up for the fight would play for him.

And yet Goldson starts every match, along with Tavernier. Gerrard said if you lose form, if you aren’t delivering, you’re out – but it only seems to apply to certain players.

In short, Goldson and Tavernier play. Clear. Categorical. Period.

Ojo is more complicated – he is appearance-clause locked, just like any young loan. Rangers don’t want to waste money by paying Liverpool a fine for not selecting him, so the rather ineffective winger carries on in most matches. Until, that is, we assume, he reaches his target. We imagine he’ll be dumped as soon as he does.

But that’s another story – Gerrard is the man who keeps selecting Tavernier and Goldson – and we have to ask why?

Is it because they’re captain and vice-captain? Do they have similar clauses in their contracts about playing like Lee McCulloch allegedly once did? Or is it simply a pals act?

We don’t hate either of these men, life is too short to hate. But we have plenty of options in those positions and while we would certainly miss Tavernier’s marauding wing play now and then, it would be nice to see some variety, and a tighter rear in matches like Hearts where we knew they’d be a lot more open than, say, a Hamilton.

Moral of the story is this:

All rotation is equal, but some of it shouldn’t be more equal than others.

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