One thing being quietly whispered among Rangers fans is the decent form of James Tavernier. While we will always have misgivings about his abilities as captain, recent times have shown, factually, that his defending, statistically, is a tonne better than he’s given credit for, and his attacking play has been of good quality as well.
Not quite Cafu, true, but he’s certainly far better overall than he’s frequently suggested to be, including, previously, by us, but when we started properly analysing his data, it becomes clear that he’s not half bad.
And in truth, a major reason for this is Steven Gerrard and Michael Beale’s new system.
The new formation is one thing, but the way the team is playing is another, and crucially, its efficiency and effectiveness.
We’ve shown you the data, about how statistically (and actually) Rangers are the best team on current form in Scotland, and deserve to be top of the table.
But that data also reveals the truth about Tavernier, and that truth is that the former Wigan and Newcastle man has seen his Rangers career completely reinvigorated by the ‘new position’ he’s in.
In short, because of the double pivot in midfield, both defensive midfielders act as auxiliary fullbacks for both fullbacks, with Jack covering Tavernier and Kamara/Davis covering Barisic.
This freedom has given Tavernier especially the licence to roam forward without losing cover behind him – previously with one central defensive midfielder, that sole body was having to cover both FBs, but now Jack just deals with Tavernier’s vacancies.
The captain now can concentrate on getting forward in patches and providing the width (his on-target crossing has improved) while Jack covers the space, and Tavernier now gets back more with discipline letting the attacking four deal with the advanced areas when moves get central.
The system is subtle, but it’s different – Rangers play now with effective width provided properly by both FBs as pseudo-wingers at times, but also load more central bodies forward too to alternate attacking styles.
And it’s getting the best out of James Tavernier, allowing him to focus on the best of his games, both attacking and defensively.
Michael Beale is the real brains behind this, and Tavernier really owes him a lot. We’ve noticed a lot less flack aimed in the captain’s direction this season, and the new setup is part of that.