A good right back can do everything. They can create chances and chip in with a few goals every season. If you’re really lucky they might be better at the defensive side of the job, which you could argue, is more important. Rangers have had more than a few decent ones over the years. Those of an older disposition will remember the great Sandy Jardine and Richard Gough starting his Ibrox career marauding up the touchline. Here’s my three favourite number 2’s (snigger) from the last thirty odd years.
We signed a Champions League winner for goodness sake. Those were the days. Porrini came from the star studded 90’s Juventus team and looked to be a great signing. For those of you born around the 90’s and haven’t seen much of Porrini think about Sasa Papac. Picked as a centre half but way more comfortable and dependable as a full back. A defender first and foremost but capable of getting forward to support the attack. You would get a 7/10 performance every week from him.
It was Walter Smith who was forced into playing Porrini as a centre half, mainly due to Gough leaving then Lorenzo Amoruso getting injured. He was nowhere near as comfortable, even as part of a back three. When Dick Advocaat arrived and Amoruso was fit, Porrini returned to his right back berth and our defence improved immeasurably.
I’m a great believer that a back four (or defence in general) shouldn’t get rotated. It’s no coincidence that Advocaat’s most successful spell was with Klos, Porrini, Numan, Amoruso and Moore at the back. It was only when Bert Konterman and Fernando Rickson arrived things went down hill! Porrini found himself, unfairly, out of the team to make way for Ricksen or Konterman and the team suffered. What was frustrating was the back four didn’t need to be fixed, Advocaat couldn’t help himself. I loved Sergio so i did!
Makes my all-time Rangers XI. England’s first choice right back when we signed him from Everton. He was one of the first “modern” full backs that could genuinely do everything. Hard in the tackle, elegant with the ball and an accurate crosser of the ball. He also had an incredible engine and work-rate.
Stevens would genuinely be one of those £50 million plus full backs in today’s game. Another that very rarely dropped below a 7/10 but more often than not would perform above that. A genuine world class player in his pomp and one of my childhood favourites.
I’m not for a second saying Tavernier is better than Jardine or Gough as a right back. What I have done is pick three right backs with different qualities. Porrini was more defensive, Stevens was an excellent all-rounder and Tavernier is more of a converted midfielder.
Tavernier hit the ground running with Rangers scoring 15 goals in his first season in the Scottish Championship. There were signs though that he wasn’t the most effective defender. With hindsight, I think this was a coaching/managerial issue. He frequently got caught out of position either higher up the pitch or defending his back post.
Some might disagree but I think over the last year his physicality has improved as has his positionally sense. He has undoubtedly been helped with the arrival of Daniel Candeias, offering more protection than he got previously. There are games when he is switched on and puts in inspired defensive performances showing that he isn’t far away. The most recent being last night against Maribor. A considerable step up from the Championship. It’s a testament to him that he is now Club Captain and one of the few survivors from the Championship winning team.
There’s my three memorable right backs, each with their own qualities that made them popular with the Rangers support. If you think Alex Cleland was in with a shout, you’re for the watching!