This has been an issue of contention since James Tavernier became captain and Connor Goldson became vice amid the two entrenching themselves as Rangers’ main two defenders back in 2018.
It’s been something Ibrox Noise has complained about as well, Rangers’ soft-centre, and the lack of accountability for them.
Connor Goldson even laughed at it when Sky’s Mark Benstead pointed out he was untouchable. He and Tavernier are hard-wired into Rangers’ rearguard and nothing any Rangers fan does or says changes that.
But looking at Rangers this season, there is in fact no reason to change anything.
Rangers domestically have the best defence in Scotland, are technically on for the (immensely unlikely) quadruple, and only have one defeat since October the 5th.
Whether Rangers supporters like it or not, the Tav and Goldson backline is working and in this article we’re going to explain exactly why it isn’t going to change.
In summary, Rangers still concede goals. Cuellar and Hutton and Weir it isn’t. So why is a top manager like Philippe Clement sticking with a seemingly soft-centre?
Looking at James Tavernier, he’s up there in the top three in the league for tackles. Yes, he’s made more tackles than pretty much any other player or defender in the SPL. And from our research, 90% of them are in his own half. Whatever you think about his ‘being exposed’ a lot, he still offers more tackles than any other RB and defender aside Motherwell’s Paul McGinn.
With Connor Goldson, however it gets more tricky to defend the big stopper. He is nowhere near top of any stat for any defender in the SPL. He doesn’t even figure, with his being lowest-ranked Rangers player in pretty much every area – interceptions, tackles, clearances – for all of these, Leon Balogun, John Souttar and even Dujon Sterling all rate more highly than he does.
And even with passing Souttar outdoes him too, 90% to his 87% average in the SPL.
Many would like to defend Goldson based on his ball work, but his distribution isn’t even the best.
Honestly, when we look at the numbers, Tavernier does justify his place, but Goldson doesn’t.
And yet, Rangers’ well-performing defence does it overall, doesn’t it?
It’s hard to justify dumping Goldson’s generally-average performances (that’s complacency for you) when, as a whole, the defence is delivering and the team is winning.
Ridvan is onto a game now, and Balogun, who is thriving, has mostly become the first-pick partner for Goldson these days.
That Goldson seems completely unaccountable for his own faults doesn’t seem to matter.
As long as Rangers win matches, as long as Philippe Clement is happy with Goldson and the rest of the defence, nothing will change.
Doesn’t mean Rangers fans will be happy about it.