Rival’s Tavernier claim would have been a joke last season

Rival’s Tavernier claim would have been a joke last season
Stevie with the captain.... (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

We covered earlier how Benfica boss Jorge Jesus gave Rangers the ultimate respect and compliment by admitting he and his men were fearing how Rangers would ‘play’ with them, but he also reserved special praise for Borna Barisic and James Tavernier, in particular.

Now, Barisic, we know is a world class left back who is entirely at his level, if not maybe slightly below it at the Europa League. Guy could easily compete in the Champions League.

But in Tavernier’s case, he rarely used to get singled out for any significant mention by anyone other than Rangers fans who were previously divided over his merits.

Now having managers of Jesus’ calibre single him out (along with Barisic) is the ultimate compliment of just how significantly improved Tavernier is.

As we demonstrated some months ago, his defensive stats are/were a tonne better than fans had given him credit for, ourselves previously included, and that changed a lot of not only our opinion on the ex-Wigan man but that of our readers too, many of whom were surprised to see such impressive numbers.

He was always, however, impressive in attack and has only further improved in that sense this season.

So it’s really not surprising Jesus would be impressed too by him and Barisic:

“We were leaving the side runners uncovered, Rangers have two great full-backs in my opinion.”

And he’s right. Is Tavernier world class? Let’s not get hysterical. Some people pegged Calvin Bassey as better than Barisic off the back of a couple of good performances, so let’s try not to get OTT in judgment.

Tavernier is top class though these days for certain, and Rangers are one of the most blessed teams in Europe for the quality of our FBs.

And that’s from the mouth of Jesus, no less.

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  1. Tav is bordering world class. If he can get through a europa campaign without the silly mistakes he was making before and keep up his impressive numbers, I don’t think there would be any doubt.

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