How Steven Gerrard figured out Celtic & Liege

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MOTHERWELL, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Steven Gerrard, Manager of Rangers looks on during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Motherwell and Rangers at Fir Park on September 27, 2020 in Motherwell, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

The Scotsman recently ran a very interesting and fair article on the Old Firm, and exactly how both fullbacks’ roles changed to deal with Celtic and offer a different approach.

The journo, a gentleman by the name of Jason Jones, said in particular:

“In particular, the continued emphasis on using Borna Barisic as an outlet illustrated perfectly just how well-prepared Gerrard’s men were going into this game. The Croatian full-back lined up opposite Jeremie Frimpong, a player who he has an 11cm height advantage over. And the Gers repeatedly used Barisic’s aerial advantage as a means of kickstarting their attacks.
The Ibrox man won six out of the seven aerial duels he contested on Saturday, giving him a success rate of 86%, as per Wyscout. As a point of reference, that figure is 18% higher than his overall average this season.”

He went onto point out how Allan McGregor fed Barisic a lot on the left, and Tavernier on the right, and despite being highly advanced, Barisic did not attack a lot – indeed, he only managed a couple of crosses all game, and ditto Tavernier.

No, the purpose of this was to contain Celtic’s fullbacks, stop them attacking much, especially Frimpong, and we have to say while Tavernier wasn’t as good (Diego Laxalt was the most effective crosser in the match) the Barisic side did work.

Our point?

As Jones said, and as was further evidenced last night, Gerrard’s tactical acumen is rising rapidly.

He is starting not only to have his players run through walls for him, and understand his instructions, but he’s starting to understand the game intuitively more than he ever has.

Understand his opponents and what they are likely to do. Where their strengths and weaknesses lie – and he’s starting to exploit the weaknesses and stub out the strengths.

For example, Selim Amallah was Liege’s biggest threat in this competition. Last night he was marked out so well he didn’t manage a single shot, on or off target.

Gerrard is really learning the intricacies of the sport in a way he didn’t as player – he’s learning fast exactly how to stop his opponent, and how to hurt them.

He’s learned so much the past two years, and this season looks, finally, to be the real deal, with a Rangers who have the tools on the pitch now to realise Gerrard’s vision and carry out his instructions.

If anyone had suggested Rangers would stroll both Celtic and Liege by 0-2… in truth with what Stevie is showing lately, we might not even have laughed…

1 COMMENT

  1. I’ve also got to say that in both games I thought we were short of our best despite dominant performances. Against Ceptic we carried 2 passengers in Morelos and Barker and against Liege our front 3 were very poor. We still have much growing to do which is very exciting. And of course we’ve just added Aribo and Roofe to the mixture with Zungu still to come. Bring it on.

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