Scottish Premiership 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Rangers vs Celtic

The silence is deafening

Well that was fun, wasn’t it? Previously, when Rangers have been given a hiding by Celtic, the media have discussed how big the gap is. How much money it will take to catch up. In the two games, Rangers have given Celtic a metaphorical hiding this season the talk has been of refereeing and the songbook. All season long we’ve heard about Gerrard being under pressure furthermore, even being compared to Pedro Caixinha. Seriously. It’s all gone quiet over there.

Who’s had the last laugh?

There are a few iconic images after Sunday’s Old Firm game, first of all, Scott Arfield receiving a salute from a Rangers fan in the crowd. Glen Kamara turning Scott Brown inside out. James Tavernier exploding with joy after the earliest of openers but above all, the one that does it for me and perhaps the one that illustrates best the changing of the guard? Connor Goldson laughing at a sitting Mikael Lustig holding eight fingers up.

The image was art. Yes, Celtic, eventually strolled to the league title and it is their eighth in a row but it can’t be ignored that they are at a crossroads. Lustig himself was being smart and yet his own Celtic career is as good as over. Goldson laughing at Lustig being “injured” for the second Ibrox Old Firm game in a row. Pure coincidence that they were getting beat in both games and Ryan Kent was giving him a roasting. The shitebag’s shitebag.

Solid Goldson

Goldson was imperious on Sunday. Arguably his finest performance alongside the ever-improving Nikola Katic. I counted one misjudgement between them which led to Oliver Burke’s sclaffed effort. Katic has been immense since he came back into the side being aggressive, pro-active and commanding. He has found a new level of calmness on the ball too. Their passing at the weekend sped the transition from defence to attack up a notch. A few weeks ago, some Rangers fans thought we needed as many as three new centre-halves. All we needed was Katic to return to the first team. Rangers have a genuine partnership at centre half.

The tide is turning

Neil Lennon admitted himself that Celtic need a major overhaul in the summer. Celtic are losing three of their back four – if they keep Lustig after Sunday I’ll be amazed and grateful in equal measures. Scott Brown is a spent force at a decent level. Scott Arfield and Ryan Kent have tormented him in all but the first Old Firm game. Even then, Rangers had just returned from playing against Ufa, in Russia, with nine men. Tom Rogic has been found out and is already being pimped out at £15m – yes, you read that correctly. Scott Sinclair is their highest earner and he was on the bench at the weekend, as was Olivier Ntcham. Celtic’s bench cost more than the Rangers starting XI.

Rangers have already replaced their outgoing squad players with improvements. Rangers are doing their transfer work early. There is now a settled squad for the first time in nearly a decade. We genuinely only need 2-3 players that would go into the matchday squad to push us onto the next level. It’s already silly season with some of the names being mentioned. Danny Welbeck, Phil Jagielka, Tammy Abraham and James Milner to name but a few.

Decisions to make

It’s going to be an interesting summer, although the season has ended without a trophy there is much to be enthused about for next year. I want to see Borna Barisic given another chance because he’s too good just to let go likewise, the return to fitness of Jamie Murphy will be like the proverbial new player.

If we do one thing, please sign Ryan Kent because most importantly he will only get better. He is also our most dangerous player and even if he doesn’t score or assist he creates so much space for others. Kent’s Old Firm performances alone will push his transfer fee up therefore if we can get him at around £5m, it will be a steal. It will be an investment, not a gamble but I’d still expect money to be spent on another centre half, a striker and a creative midfielder. Just who is anyone’s guess.

Consistency has been the issue this season maybe we now have it in both selection and performance. Too many changes could affect this come the Europa League qualifiers and Steven Gerrard knows who he can trust. If only the season started again next week!