At IN, we have been criticized with being overly negative, and some say we are not true Rangers fans.
So, in my tactical piece, before yesterday’s game, I decided to be positive, and to say this was a game we could win, and it was a game that we could have won…
However, I did put up a red flag and I said very directly that Glen Kamara needed to be replaced with Stephen Kelly, and now I will show you why.
With an opening 2:0 defeat there is now zero reason to keep defending players who are costing us games against teams we should be competing with.
So, I’m going to run a detailed tactical analysis on Rangers, to show you exactly why I have been critical about Glen Kamara.
At the 19:33 mark we have a goal kick. Allan McGregor choses to pass to Leon Balogun, who then passes to Kamara, who is taking up the defensive midfield role.
At this point Kamara has taken up a very good tactical position and at this point any reasonable defensive midfielder would now try to immediately break the Lyon high press, by passing to the side, to Connor Goldson, who has now moved upfield to receive what should have been a very simple pass from Kamara.
Instead Kamara took the very strange choice to help the Lyon team, by passing the ball straight back to Balogun, who no longer has Goldson to pass to (he went for the return pass from Kamara which never came) and Balogun is now saying to himself “what the sh*t”, because Balogun has three Lyon players packed around him with one running straight at him at full speed.
The result…8 seconds into Rangers’ possession, Balogun is forced to punt the ball up field, creating a very good chance for Lyon that the ball will be turned over, and that is exactly what happened.
This was then followed by the Lyon team retaining the ball for 30 seconds, with the ball being passed between several Lyon players.
The difference in ball retention…22 seconds, and this is at the critical 20-minute mark, when our opponents are starting to decide if they are going to be in a match where they will be defending the whole night, or they suddenly realize ehh, this is going to be lot easier than they thought.
Here, the correct option for any defensive midfielder, who had been looking around about him before they received the ball, would have been the simple pass to Connor Goldson who then had no players directly covering him, and with one more second of time on the ball, the probability is we could have mounted a reasonable attack, and had Lyon again on the defensive.
Instead, Lyon were able to start a very aggressive attack.
It is these small but critical differences that can sometimes be the difference between winning and losing, and I’m sorry to have to pick on Glen Kamara here, but he just does not read tactical situations very well.
I said that in my piece before the Lyon game, and I will say it again. Kamara has to be replaced by a player who has at least some tactical awareness (especially for a player taking up the defensive midfielder role), and Stephen Kelly has already shown he is far more aware of his tactical surroundings than Kamara ever will.
However, it is at the 20:59 mark we begin to see critical problems.
At this moment in the game Kamara is now standing all by himself in what is a perfectly good tactical position,
But it is only a good tactical position if there was actually someone he was defending!
He isn’t looking around to see where the Lyon players around him might be running to. Instead, as usual he is entirely focused on just the one guy with the ball, who then has a very easy pass to one of the Lyon forwards, who ran just a few yards to Kamara’s side.
This suddenly leaves Balogun on a 1vs1 situation, which now forces Barisic to come to his assistance, and fortunately for us the Lyon player is just a little heavy with his first touch and he is forced to travel away from our goal.
At 21:22 Kamara then decides to start chasing a Lyon player who is running far away from the goal, but the problem here is the Lyon player doesn’t have the ball!
This strange run then leaves a huge, massive gap in the defensive line.
The Lyon players then get an easy cross into the goal, but it is too high and it does not lead to a shot on goal.
Remember I talked about Lyon playing chess, and they might need three moves to break open our defence, with the aim of each move being to move one of our players just one or two yards out of position.
Well, in this case they didn’t even need the second move, because Kamara was running so far out of position he might as well have run off the park.
Being blunt I received massive pelters for suggesting Kamara should be removed from the team, but I would like to ask his supporters, what exactly does Kamara contribute?
He almost never takes a shot at goal.
He doesn’t run past people.
He isn’t good at defensive midfield. In fact, in most cases he is so tactically naive he is an absolute liability at this level of football.
He doesn’t repetitively split open the midfield or the defensive line with killer passes to offset his lack of running with the ball.
He doesn’t drag opponent midfield players out of position.
And when he does get the ball, it is usually a safe (if we are lucky) pass back to the back, or if we are not lucky he makes the wrong choice and we suddenly find ourselves under a lot of pressure.
Yes I am picking on Glen Kamara, and perhaps he does not deserve to be singled out, because he was never a defensive midfielder. I should be clear about this, it’s more on Stevie for putting him there than Glen himself. He has only been thrown there because of the loss of Ryan Jack, something which is also badly hurting Steven Davis’s game too.
But he fact is that is the position he now plays in, and in the modern game it is the defensive midfielder’s role to know how to move around the field, to drag opponents with him, to tactically break open an opponent’s high press, even if he never touches the ball.
A defensive midfielder is not an easy position to play in. In fact, it could easily be considered the most demanding in football.
And with Kamara’s poor tactical reading, any opponent, at this level, will be able to tear us apart.
So, it’s now time to give Stephen Kelly some game time, because being honest we could easily end up losing all six matches, if this is allowed to continue.
…and no I am not over-reacting.
I have seen this coming for some time, and I already was shouting out warnings well before this match, but being equally blunt our management team, with all the experience they have, they must have also seen this coming too.
So, Gerrard…..what are you going to do?
Are you going to continue to play players in positions they are not suited for, and run the risk of us losing all six Europa league ties, and perhaps putting your Rangers career in jeopardy, or do what you do to with all the other players who you say are not ready to play for Rangers, and immediately drop them?
It’s your call, Gerrard.
We are just passionate fans, and all we do is call things as we see them.