Rock-bottom Connor Goldson is part of a top Rangers defence

Rock-bottom Connor Goldson is part of a top Rangers defence
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Connor Goldson of Rangers looks dejected following the team's defeat in the Viaplay Cup Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on February 26, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It’s been a very long time since Ibrox Noise covered the topic of Connor Goldson, who, we suppose, aside James Tavernier, remains Rangers’ most controversial player.

We did defend Tavernier significantly, demonstrating how for goals, assists and tackles he is (or was at the time) overall the Scottish Premiership’s most prolific player, excelling high up the charts in each of those attributes, those being obviously both ends of the park.

But he does get caught cold a lot, he is out of position a tonne, and that will always be his Achilles Heel. By contributing so much up front, it’s clear he’ll leave the back door open a lot.

However, he clearly contributes.

Goldson? Not so much.

We wanted to justify the ex-Brighton man’s place by boasting about some shock stat which demonstrates just why Steven Gerrard, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Michael Beale and now Philippe Clement have all stuck rigidly by him to the chagrin of supporters, but unfortunately we couldn’t find a single defensive stat (or any, in truth) which elevated him to the best at the club, never mind in the league.

He lagged behind in every single one, and embarrassingly for him, his strongest suit, passing, not a strictly defensive trait, was also inferior to John Souttar’s.

Goldson got complacent a very long time ago – he held the club to ransom over 18 months regarding a new deal, because he firmly expected to move to the Premier League as a ‘lucrative free agent’ with Nottingham Forest the destination.

That move didn’t happen and neither did any other, and Goldson took Rangers’ ridiculous £40,000pw offer and decided to stay put.

For that kind of money we’re expecting Carlos Cuellar, David Weir, Richard Gough – we’re expecting a club great, not a guy languishing in midtable in everything he does.

He’s tall, huge, 6ft 3, and yet Leon Balogun’s clearances and aerial duel win rate are all superior.

For clearances, John Souttar has slightly less clearances in total 52 to 57, but also 5 less appearances in the league it would be even otherwise. But Leon Balogun also beats Goldson, an average of 4.2 per game. And so does Ben Davies. Yes really. Goldson is lowest for clearances average.

Those aerial duels? Balogun is Rangers’ best, 10th in the league and Ben Davies, yes, really, is 13th.

In short, Goldson doesn’t thrive in a single significant defensive or even general metric. He’s literally average in every single one of any gravity. Souttar’s passing level is 89.5%, Lunny just behind him at 88%, and Goldson third at 87%.

He doesn’t top a single thing (and believe us, we looked at dozens of statistical disciplines, too many to bore you with) or even come close.

And yet he plays without accountability, rarely-to-never dropped by any boss at Ibrox since 2018.

Now, there’s a caveat. A BIG caveat. And that caveat is simply that Rangers are winning. Under Philippe Clement we’re winning, and it’s hard to argue with that. The man is earning our trust.

But it doesn’t change that Goldson is an incredibly weak link and we do wonder what it is about what he offers that keeps Rangers’ defence pretty robust – he’s selected in 99% of matches and Rangers generally don’t concede.

There is clearly a fairy dust that he adds, that while everyone else is doing the work, somehow his presence ensures few goals shipped.

Leadership? Organisation? Things we can’t put into a number and measure?

It’s hard to say.

All we know is that the guy is poor, very poor, and a clear weak link at the back, and yet Rangers’ defence is solid and we keep on winning.

Difficult to make a case against winning.

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