Ducking Goldson – the anatomy of a penalty not for Rangers

Ducking Goldson – the anatomy of a penalty not for Rangers
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 14: Connor Goldson of Rangers is seen at full time during the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 round of 16 second leg match between Rangers FC and SL Benfica at Ibrox Stadium on March 14, 2024 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Recently I have been quiet about Connor Goldson. The team has done great. We have caught up with Celtic after a truly dreadful start, and this week we should hopefully be two points ahead after the game with Dundee. Honestly I don’t think anyone would have believed that.

So, I am happy….sort of.

But now I think it’s time for answers. I, for one, want to know what is going on inside Connor Goldson’s head.

Here, Clement doesn’t know the exact story. He only arrived 175 days ago.

So, he never experienced Goldson’s famous ducks in the middle of defence, which often occurred for no reason, and he has never seen how Goldson, at one time in his Ranger’s career, routinely gave his opponents free shots on goal, in what for us were huge matches.

But here Goldson now has to be compared with Morelos, (for reference see my article from August 23rd 2022).

You might remember against Hibs Morelos decided to take two careful backhand swings at his opponent’s face, right in front of the ref, and the ref just had no choice but to send him off.

The problem is what I said then about Morelos now equally applies to Goldson.

When you are a professional athlete, you always know where your arms are and you also know the position of your legs.

The reason why is simple. At this level you need to know how to place your body at all times. This is in order to generate the best possible balance, and to generate the quickest possible reaction times to a threat.

At this level, the players are training every single day. So, you 100% know where your arms, legs and head are. You are not playing for a pub team where you are unfit and totally clueless.

So, let’s look more closely at the play leading up to the penalty, which Goldson gifted Celtic in the first half, and let’s see if he has any excuses.

In this analysis I want to start about two minutes before the penalty incident at 28:33 seconds into the match. This is to show there was a long sequence of events that just left me scratching my head until I was worried I was beginning to go bald.

At 28:33 he made the OK-ish decision to drive forward to the right side of the halfway line, heading almost straight for Tavernier, and then seeing nothing was happening up front, he just passes the ball six feet to Tavernier, and then Tavernier has to play the ball back to Lundstram.

Now at this point everyone knows Celtic were going to press our back line. I mean for Celtic this is a gift.

So, Goldson has now taken up a position where he had now doubled up, needlessly, with Tavernier, placing two defenders at the halfway line. Rangers still have the ball, but with Goldson running into a brick wall, and Tavernier beside him, he would know we were now weak at the back, with Celtic 100% guaranteed to play a frantic high press.

This means it was a very risky decision to play the ball backwards.

Now this play can work, if you’re smart; and your plan is to just briefly drag your opponent out of position towards your goals, and then you have the plan to run central, to give those playing at the back a way out.

When done right, this would have put Celtic on the back foot, because Rangers would then have had the overload in midfield, and a great chance to open up play towards the Celtic goal.

But does Goldson run quickly to the center, or even try to bust a gut and run backwards to give his teammates support. Nahhh that would help the team.

Instead, he just jogs. Yes, all he does is to JOGS very slowly back as if Celtic player are not really trying, and at 28:43 you can see he has now tucked himself very nicely behind a Celtic player, meaning that after Tavernier has passed back to Butland and the pressure is rapidly building, Butland now has no choice but to just thump the ball up the park.

Here it was up to Goldson to make things happen. He really needs to be in position to help out his team-mates, or at least he should be trying to get in a position that can help his team.

When looking at tactics, If Goldson had instead made a move into space….even if it was only a false run, the Celtic team would have been forced to react to his run, and moving just one player does have the effect of slightly changing the position or at least the awareness of all the player around him. Movement catches the eye and it causes distractions.

At the minimum a fast run would mean at least one Celtic player would need to watch out for a possible counter form that position, and at best you could affect the actions of three of four players.

Instead, Goldson decides to occupy prime real estate on the football field, and he does NOTHING. Because he is now behind the Celtic player, Butland cannot see him, so cannot pass to him; and he has totally blanked this entire critical area of the pitch, and Rangers can’t use it to mount an attack

This mean Goldson, by making this decision to jog into this prime area, but making sure he was hidden, effectively destroyed any attack we could have made down the center and the entire right wing, and the Celtic team has now effectively made Rangers play with a player down, by not doing anything at all…It’s a stupid freebie, just because Goldson couldn’t be bothered to make a run.

Now this is just ten seconds of gameplay, but in a football, at the very highest levels you only need just one second to create a chance that will lead to a goal; and one good passage of play, one good choice in a pass, can also shift the direction of a game, by making the opponents second-guess their tactics.

In this case, Butland’s punt up the park is predictable, and it is quickly returned by Celtic, and it is followed by just pure chaos, with the Rangers players all now playing isolated, frantic panic-football, with no idea as to what the plan should be, or might be.

At that point there is minimal structure in the team, no communication between the defenders and midfield, and no-one busting a gut to help out.

Thankfully, at that point Celtic could not take the advantage, and the ball goes out of play, and this is where we should have taken the time to regroup. We throw it in, and we come to the next very stupid decision.

Connor Goldson now has all the time in the world, but what does he do?

He decides to pointlessly punt the ball up the park and he gives away the ball, for free, to Celtic., and they can start their next attack.

Why did he do that? Lundstram, at that time, had then moved to the centre, and if he had passed to Lundstram we could have mounted a very simple attack.

However, instead, it was the next sequence of comedy that finally leads up to the penalty. As we know Tavernier was 100% asleep on the ball. He was jogging even slower than Goldson, and a 90 year old granny could have robbed him. They then get a free shot on goal. Butland does his job and he saves an almost certain goal, but Celtic get a corner. The corner is cleared, and this is the part I truly cannot understand.

It is now 30:41 on the clock. Kuhn has just received the ball. The first question I have is why has not one single player in the penalty box looked over to the wings, to see if there might be a need to cover that area? At this point at least one of our defenders should be thinking to widen the defensive line, to help slow someone coming in from the side, and just perhaps to stop the cross.

Instead, at this point we have six players closely packed together, in the centre covering three central Celtic players, and Celtic has two unmarked players on the left and the right side of the park. This, to put it bluntly is not how you want to play Celtic.

But, in this case that is not the biggest problem.

The problem is from the time Kühn hits the ball into the middle, till the point that Connor’s chicken-wing elbow hits it, the ball spends about one full second of time in the air.

Yes, about one second….

That is a second, at professional level.

It is here, in this second that I have many problems with Connor Goldson.

At 30:55.75 seconds the ball was well on its way into the penalty box. The ball first left the foot of Kühn at 30:55, and Goldson, amongst all the players on that park, had the clearest view of the line of the ball.

The problem that I have is Goldson, is with his very clear view, he could see how high the Celtic player was jumping, and he also knew how high the ball was, and he would also have a very good idea as to where the ball would be going, if the Celtic player missed it.

As I said, all the guys that are playing for Rangers are professionals, and I am not accepting, in this situation, the argument that he did not have enough time to react.

Do you want an example of speed of reaction?

Professional Badminton players have reaction time of 0.27 seconds. Do you see them missing many shots? Do you want to know how fast a shuttle is moving when they return a smash?  It’s about 246 km/h (153 mph) for females and a whopping 305 km/h (190 mph) average for males! That means it can go faster than that. Yet, they can move their arms fast enough, and return the shuttle. So, I think it is fair to say that Goldson cannot argue he didn’t have enough time.

Goldson, has a whole second to get this play right. So, the question is why then does he duck his head TOWARDS OUR GOAL. It should be moving towards the ball. And why does he also decide to push his elbow upwards INTO the flight of the ball.

This is why I think it is time we finally have to ask Goldson what is going through his head.

And until he can answer this, he should not play for Rangers again

Ducking your head TOWARDS our goal…..

Bringing his elbow up into the flight of the ball…

Honestly, I could continue this rant but all that would be left is words that could not be published.

So, tell me, am I crazy?

I’m sure there are defenders out there who can relate to this situation.

Can you begin to explain to me Goldson’s decision to duck out of the way?

Coz I can’t, and for me he has now ducked the ball far too many times in his career, and he always seems to have a bad habit of losing us goals in critical games.

I look forward to reading your comments….

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