There are so many differences under Gio van Bronckhorst we wouldn’t even know where to begin, but the biggest quite literally is the overnight improvement in all aspects of defence.
Under the ex-boss, the full backs were encouraged to leave their posts with reckless abandon, playing without discipline and frequently leaving gaps at the back. James Tavernier especially had no structure, firing forward and leaving others to fill in for him. It led to tonnes of leaked goals.
On the other side Borna Barisic did much the same, albeit he’d lost a tonne of form this year under that manager.
In the centre?
Connor Goldson told to ‘build from the back’ which is now a redundant method of football, and a byword for ponderous defence-based passing, which left the vice-captain dallying on the ball exchanging the ball with Steven Davis at snail’s pace.
And his partner, always changing, didn’t know if they were coming or going, and left to do all the physical defending.
EVERYTHING under the ex-boss was wrong, badly-managed, badly set up, and that’s on Michael Beale more than anything. The only reason Rangers conceded so few last season was Ryan Jack covering for the fullbacks and defence – when he wasn’t around, we conceded a boatload. Terrible system to rely on one man bailing out four.
EVERYTHING under the new manager has changed. A completely, total, and absolute wipe of all the poor mistakes of the previous regime.
The full backs are now disciplined, taking turns to attack, doing so much more calculatedly and with infinitely more care. Saturday was a bit different – Dundee sitting in the whole match made it viable for the full backs to attack a lot more, and there was absolutely no cost to the defence because of the visitors’ lack of adventure. In fact, the fullbacks had more of the ball than anyone on the pitch, in a specific tactic for this match in using lots of width to get around a turgid defence. But against better opposition, they retreat much more, and defend with way more discipline.
In the middle, Goldson no longer hogs the ball, with far less touches, albeit today again it was set up different where he and Bassey got a lot more of the ball to allow midfield time to regroup for a new move.
In short, this manager is adapting what he has for each match – he is showing plan A, B, C and D if necessary, configuring each formation and setup for the opponent.
This is something we’ve been wanting to say since the days of Warburton, but only now can we finally address it:
When a Rangers manager says ‘it’s all about us and what we do’ as Bread Man and the former manager did, that’s absolutely wrong and pure arrogance.
Gio does it right, he configures his setup to adjust for the opponent, rather than acting like we’re entitled to the win just by being us.
By doing this, he’s showing flexibility and tactical acumen, something we’ve not seen at Ibrox since Walter.
And in doing so, a team leaking goals left right and centre up till Hibs on that Sunday, has now gone four with conceding just one.
Quite the difference when you have a real manager.