Michael Beale’s admission today that Rangers fans are never going to get the defence they want is a very refreshing and honest way of trying to explain to supporters that if you play flying fullbacks like James Tavernier and Borna Barisic, you’re never going to get the robust defence you expect.
Beale, speaking before Old Firm rivals travel to Ibrox on Monday, said:
This is a very candid admission from a man known to be generous with lip service and economical with the truth at best, and it’s an occasion where he’s absolutely correct to say it, with fans demanding an iron curtain despite the fact we effectively only have two defenders for most of the match.
See, fans who are expecting Tav and Barisic to defend like lions aren’t grasping the type of system not only Beale but the club in general has played since Mark Warburton took over. He brought in Tavernier, and since then we’ve seen high lines for the fullbacks – him, Pedro, Gerrard… only Gio stopped doing it and became negative, which is a major reason why the football under the Dutchman became so flat and he became the horseshoe.
But Beale will always play the more flair-ridden dynamic football, overloading the front end and using the fullbacks to attack, which means there will be gaps at the back and that’s part of the system.
It’s true though, Goldson and Davies have looked a much more solid unit – a few misunderstandings yes, but we saw the seeds of this duo in that first half v Liverpool, and it works well. It will take time to get the full understanding, but in two matches of them paired we’ve seen no goals conceded.
But supporters expecting Barisic and Tavernier to keep the door shut at the back – it’s just not going to happen, and that’s when you rely on your CBs and DMs to cover for them as much as possible.
It is what it is.