Rangers fans tend not to agree on much. Steven Gerrard has been highly, and rightly, praised for his summer recruitment. There is one area that still leaves cause for concern. The midfield. It is the one area where not many fans seem to agree. What is our best midfield?
The Liverpool midfield
First of all, it appears Gerrard is looking to replicate the Liverpool model at Rangers. Kind of. He is looking for three, hard-working, industrious central midfielders. One may be slightly deeper, one may be slightly further forward but all are expected to contribute in both defence and attack. When they have been good, they have been very good. When they have been bad, they have been Dundee away or Livingston away or Aberdeen….you get the picture.
Rangers are not blessed with the embarrassment of riches that Liverpool have in midfield. What’s worth noting is that in the games Jurgen Klopp expects to be tight, he goes with Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner. You would never look at this three and see them as line breakers or players that will play defence-splitting passes. It’s more surprising when you consider the money spent on Naby Keita and Fabinho.
More often than not, Klopp gets it right. He’s had a few years now to get these players drilled remember. Gerrard has still only been a manager for a matter of months. Klopp had been a successful manager with Borussia Dortmund, competing at the highest level in Europe. He knew what works and what didn’t. Gerrard has done remarkably well, given what he inherited and where we are in Europe.
Breaking the low block
There appears to be one area that needs to be worked on, breaking down a low block. It’ll come, frustrating as it is just now. I don’t think it is a matter of who goes where and what combination of midfielders. For me, it’s time on the training ground and drilling players to take the risks, to change their body positions when they receive the ball. The Rangers midfield players need to understand that sometimes attempting a riskier forwards pass is the right option. If we lose possession higher up the park then the high press becomes essential and a weapon. If we aren’t taking these risks it becomes easy to defend against.
It’s no coincidence that the midfield has struggled more when Scott Arfield is missing. He has the experience of top-level football. He has the understanding of body positioning, the speed of movement and quick passing.
Will Davis be the key?
The transfer window opens in a couple of weeks and maybe a player like Steven Davis is the key to greater consistency in the midfield. Having two players who are both forward thinking with the ability to operate at both ends of the park. Yes, he’s a few years older than we’d like, but it is what we have lacked. Leadership, quality and experience. He is the consummate professional whose legs are far from gone. The poor man’s James Milner, if you like.
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