The truth behind Tavernier and ‘that’ goal at Pittodrie

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GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 02: James Tavernier of Rangers warms up prior to the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox Stadium on January 02, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Rangers’ solid if ultimately nerve-jangling win yesterday at Pittodrie highlighted the best, and on a rare occasion, the very worst of Rangers’ generally outstanding system.

As we know, Steven Gerrard and tactical guru Michael Beale have worked on this for well over two years, formulating this season a system which has been pretty much decimating everyone we’ve faced.

However, against Aberdeen, while not costly, for the first time its Death Star moment was fully exposed and we conceded a goal which demonstrated two major things:

1: How to score against Rangers.

2: How badly we miss Ryan Jack.

The goal we lost wasn’t even a lethal counter – it was a possession turnover, one which Aberdeen attacked and exposed the defensive unit and set up a goal from. But the talk of this one was so many fans attacking James Tavernier for being completely out of position.

This demonstrated fans’ misunderstanding of the risks of this system.

First off, Borna Barisic was in exactly the same slot high up, and made absolutely no effort to track back after the turnover of possession – yet Tavernier was the one slaughtered by supporters despite sprinting to get back.

Secondly, and this is the real nub – this is how Rangers play, and how we’ve played all season.

It’s all about two frankly world class full backs providing crosses, width and overlapping runs. They are out of position almost all the time in this setup, and Aberdeen were the first team this season to successfully nick the ball in the middle and effectively attack the exposed rearguard.

And that brings us onto Ryan Jack.

If Rangers have an insurance policy, it’s this man. He covers Tavernier constantly when the captain roams forward, but without him, no one was plugging that gap yesterday.

Steven Davis doesn’t have the legs to do it, being more creative minded and getting on a bit, but Jacko is all about covering grass and doing the graft.

Kamara does it for Barisic on the other side.

Without Jack, and on this occasion with Kamara caught for position (he was very culpable here) and Davis unable to intercept (albeit he did get back), the defence was left completely gaping.

It was a great lesson for us, seeing the best of our system with the goals, but the worst of it with that conceded effort.

It teaches us how much our defence is vulnerable when both FBs are so high up, and it teaches us Ryan Jack is a colossal miss and the sooner he’s back, the better.

But we’ll say this – it was neither Tav nor Borna’s fault. It wasn’t really anyone’s in truth.

4 COMMENTS

  1. A lesson to be learnt for sure,but look on the bright side the Buff is back outstanding performance yesterday from the weeman
    WATP🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🐂

  2. We played some good football yesterday I just re watched the game Aberdeen deserved nothing from that game . I agree that the strategy we have does need everyone at it in the same plan. Aribo struggles with that sometimes. But yes we miss Jack and Arfield big time . Perhaps the Preston midfielder might be that cover or replacement ?

  3. The goal was a mess. Balogun didn’t cover himself in glory, Goldsons covering position could’ve been better and Aribo was completely unaware of what was going on around him, something Jack would’ve been completely switched on to.
    Normally I would say, given the way we play, Tavernier and Barisic were blameless. But here’s the thing and it takes me back to the Benfica games and our inability to manage a 2 goal lead. At 2-0 up against 10 men it was appropriate for us to push on and score a third but surely we have to manage how we do that. We can still push our full backs forward but surely they can support the attack from slightly deeper. Or maybe if one goes then one stays. Likewise one of the two defensive midfield players. One stays back and one supports from a wee bit deeper. That still gives us plenty of attacking options with a front 3 and an attacking midfield player backed up by a deeper midfield player and maybe a full back.
    Thankfully Gerard seemed to agree that we didn’t manage 2-0 very well and I’m confident it will be sorted.

  4. I’ve said it before but Ryan Union Jack is the key to how this team plays. No coincidence that we’ve not been at it 100% since his injury. Still, last season when we lost Jacko we stumbled and dropped points. If we’re stumbling through without him gaining 3points each time, I’ll take a slightly slacker defence. At least the Buff seems to have got his shite half season out the way early this year.

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