A lot of complaints last night were made about Rangers’ loose passing. Indeed, the passing level was massively down on previous matches under GVB, with Borna Barisic, who had an excellent night defensively, struggling desperately with his distribution and managing a Rangers career worst of 61%.
Now, in no way is such a number excusable, and when we look at other players, it doesn’t get a lot better.
Goldson, 74%. Davis 76%. Kent 76%.
The likes of Bassey, Kamara, Hagi and Aribo did all get into the 80s, but the overall standard was somewhat below the impressive numbers in Gio’s first two matches.
So what changed, and why was the passing this poor?
There are two significant reasons why the levels dropped so badly and we’ll take you through them.
The first is Hibs’ game. Jack Ross had every player ‘stop’ Rangers from playing. Hibs only committed 15 fouls (which is the same number as Rangers) but the approach from the home side was about pressing constantly – and let’s face it, Hibs are the new Aberdeen who raise their game when they face Rangers.
Ross’ tactics were fair enough – you do what you have to to try to get a result, and while it didn’t work last night overall, it did last Sunday week. Hibs definitely have a bit of a hoodoo over Rangers and Ross’ methods came close to securing them a point.
The more telling reason, however, is that the players, no longer ‘high’ off the new manager, are now working to adjust to the new tactics, as Ibrox Noise’s Colin explained earlier.
James Tavernier and Borna Barisic no longer provide 70% of the width and crossing they did before, and the midfield now floats in front of defence and indeed comes deeper to get the ball.
This means the system isn’t going naturally to the wide men in the way it did under the ex-manager, and there’s a change in how the players are having to understand each other’s movement.
Previously, Steven Davis 100% expected James Tavernier in the final third and that’s often where the ball would go.
But against Livi, who was it who provide that ball from deep to the final third? It was Tavernier himself, and he assisted a run from Scotty Arfield instead for the opening goal.
Players’ movements have changed under this 4-2-3-1 and these are players who are learning the new boss’s system.
It’s not fully clicked yet, and passes will go astray now and then while each player learns who’s moving around them and where to.
When you’ve been used to one system for almost four years, an overnight change takes some getting adjusting to.
So, no, for all that so many fans have been whining the players, particularly Goldson, ‘suck’, they’re still adjusting to life under the new manager.
Give them time.