We’ve discussed a bit in an earlier piece the performance of John Souttar for Rangers at Parkhead, and while the lad was (maybe slightly unfairly) lambasted by swathes of the support for his admittedly poor backpass, it’s being widely-recognised, especially thanks to our commentary on him, that Souttar actually had an otherwise very good game.
If not for the error we’d probably have scored him 8/10, but it was a biggie so we had to dock him 2 points.
As the stats we compile showed, he actually performed considerably better than Connor Goldson had in the 2-2 at Ibrox against this mob, so anyone thinking Souttar wasn’t up to it is plain wrong.
This is not to say either of these guys are Richard Gough or Carlos Cuellar of the past, because Goldson especially is well below that level.
But it does give Michael Beale a real option now – Connor Goldson surely no longer has his immunity, his ‘untouchable’ tag.
John Souttar plays a different game to Goldson, a more physical and brute-force game – he’s more willing to tackle, more willing to get stuck in, and as we saw from those numbers, he even passes tidily enough compared to the vice-captain.
In short, has John Souttar played his way into possibly replacing Goldson?
Let’s be clear – a guy out cold the whole season came in and outperformed Goldson on this platform on his first Old Firm match. Let’s not make any bitter claims that he’s ‘pish’ or not up to it. That error aside, he can certainly hold his head high and his performance was much better than the rough stuff he produced v Spurs and Livi at the start of the season.
The sole complaint Ibrox Noise has made most of the season about Goldson and partner Ben Davies is they’re a very similar defender. Slight, composed, tidy, but completely lacking in physicality.
Niko Katic or Calvin Bassey they aren’t.
Souttar is MUCH more aligned with that kind of human cannonball type of defender. He’s far more solid and prepared to get stuck in.
Therefore Souttar is a far better foil for Davies than Goldson, and we’ll be honest, Davies, while no Davie Weir himself, is a better defender than Goldson, who has somehow become completely untouchable at Ibrox.
Souttar has opened an option now for Michael Beale, to actually use him as Davies’ partner going forward. Souttar is a very good defender, let’s not kid on he isn’t. It’s just been a horrific start for him at Ibrox with injury and bereavement.
Yes, he lied about injury and set us all back 7+ months, but needs must as the devil drives and he’s completely available now and more than good enough.
Is he an answer going forward? He might just be.
But of course, there’s another angle – as we alluded to before, ex-manager Steven Gerrard and then-assistant Beale built Rangers around Goldson as a possession-based defender, all about taking the ball from the rear and distributing it around – forward, wide, all directions.
John Souttar (might not be) that kind of defender, meaning such distribution and possession etc would be more on Ben Davies. And the system as a result might need a little tinkering to optimise.
It’s disappointing that Rangers have allowed themselves to become so overly-depending on a defender that it’s hard to even play without him, to have a system in his absence.
But admittedly, the addition of Davies, who is similar to Goldson, may lead to the solution being there already.
Souttar and Davies isn’t Weir and Ehiogu or Cuellar, but it has a much more solid balance to it compared with the soft-centre of Goldson and Davies.
It’s definitely a possibility.