Now there’s another ‘thing’ that we omitted from yesterday’s ‘things’ about Rangers’ rather comfortable victory over Livingston at Ibrox, and that is that while the visitors were not impressive, it was Rangers’ tactics that caused that.
This is the first time we’ve properly seen Michael Beale actually outshine an opponent tactically this season – David Martindale is a master of making things difficult, but while it took Rangers a while to blow his house down, 4 goals suggested a job well done with the right subs at the right times too.
Furthermore, he had big lads in the XI, trying to bully and intimidate the home side, but that failed too, as his travelling men didn’t lay much of a glove on the hosts at all, and Leon Balogun and John Souttar shepherded them with an impressive level of ease.
Jack Butland did have a few saves to make, so it wasn’t completely toothless from Martindale’s side, but Beale’s tactics left them mostly unable to breathe.
Rangers had the obvious bulk of the ball, but on the rare occasions we lost it, our players hunted in packs – 9 interceptions and 22 ball losses shows the pressure Rangers put on Livi when they dared to try anything.
Indeed, inside 21 minutes Jose Cifuentes bullied Shinnie in a pure show of power, and smacked a volley at Shamal George’s goal.
And this was the difference – not only were the tactics on point to compress and derail Livi, but the power was there to enforce it.
It wasn’t plain sailing – Cifuentes was actually involved in 10 duels and only won 3 of them, but that will come in time, and Livi are very physical at the best of times.
But yes, Beale got it tactically right and we saw a better Rangers.
Also helps when you pick (mostly) your best players…