James Tavernier’s recent excellent form (perhaps our score of 7 last night was a bit tight) is a sure example of what happens when a first-team member sincerely finds his place under threat from an understudy who looks very close to nabbing the berth.
The emergence of Nathan Patterson in the past 12 months has seen fans canvassing for the Scotland international to get a first-team slot, in most cases advocating his replacing Tavernier as right back.
And the captain was certainly dropped v Hibs and Patterson, after a slow start, took his chance for sure.
The gauntlet was laid down to the former Wigan man.
And in the past month, Tav’s form has clearly hiked back to close to 55 levels.
Like it or not, he’s playing very well indeed, and his biggest detractors are now the only ones finding fault with his performances.
And that’s all come about because of healthy competition. Of what happens when his manager, who previously selected Tav come hell or high water, gives the RB something to think about, gives him a genuine rival.
And the response has been the best form the captain has been in since late 2020.
This is why favouritism doesn’t work – why choosing players based on who they are isn’t right, and it won’t help the side progress.
We’re seeing so many underperformers – McGregor, Goldson, Barisic, Davis, Kamara, Morelos – all untouchable and all flagging because they pretty much start every match.
Nathan Patterson’s impact on Tavernier is why that’s not a good idea.
We have depth, certainly in midfield. John Lundstram has lost his place because the manager prefers the aging Davis, despite the former being in wonderful form.
Take your own lesson Stevie, and start using players who clearly have the hunger.
It might just give the complacent ones something to think about, aka James Tavernier.