Often, when you hear a manager say early in their tenure that a team is a “work in progress”, you find yourself wondering when you’ll ever see said improvements. You can look at a team months later and not really notice any change. In just 6 competitive matches under Gerrard, the Rangers players look better with every passing game. Here’s my opinion on how they rated in the win against Maribor at Ibrox.
ALLAN McGREGOR – 7
McGregor made a couple of strong saves and had no chance with the goal. His distribution was spot on, knowing when to go short or take some time to play it long. He also controlled the tempo when required. In the second half, he didn’t have a lot to do as Rangers dominated.
JAMES TAVERNIER – 9
There was speculation all day about bids for James Tavernier. At one point, many were convinced a deal would be struck with West Brom. If any of that affected the captain, it certainly never showed. He was excellent both in defence and getting forward. His penalty was well taken as always, with one shot from distance excellently saved.
CONNOR GOLDSON – 8
Goldson was solid, reading danger well and clearing the ball often. One moment in the second half was pivotal, just after Rangers had made it 2-1. He spotted the danger early and got in to clear before the shot could be hit. He even had a run which saw him beat 3 players and shoot from 40 yards. Sadly, the shot was high and wide.
NIKOLA KATIC – 8
Katic looks less polished than Goldson, but he’s just as effective. He was cutting out crosses and passing the ball well at the back. A few times in the first half he had to cover for Flanagan when a ball went over the top, and he did that very well. Kept the attacking tempo high by moving the ball quickly in the second half.
JON FLANAGAN – 7
Flanagan’s booking in the first half means he will be suspended for the second leg. In that half, he was caught out for pace a few times, and the yellow card held him back a little. In the second half, he had no issues at all, and even got forward to good effect. He’s settled in well and made the team more solid, so he’ll be a miss in the away game.
OVIE EJARIA – 7
Ejaria got some criticism on the night, but watching the game again confirmed that he did pretty well. He can sometimes lose the ball trying something attacking, which frustrates many fans. When you need composure on the ball, he’s excellent. Didn’t waste too many passes, and was always available to be an easy option for teammates. His work rate and tackling helped win the ball in advanced areas.
LASSANA COULIBALY – 9
Coulibaly seemed to be everywhere. Any time Rangers were under pressure, he would be involved in trying to win the ball back. He succeeded more often than not. Strength, pace, and the ability to read the game all combined for an outstanding midfield performance. His goal was simple enough, but he was unlucky not to score earlier with a turn and shot in the box which was well saved. With the number of times he broke up play and got Rangers forward, he was very close to being man of the match on the night.
SCOTT ARFIELD – 7
Arfield pressed really well. That led to the first goal, as Tavernier and him combined to force the error. A lot of his game was spent trying to break things up in midfield rather than link up play. In the times he did contribute to attacks, he looked comfortable and dangerous.
DANIEL CANDEIAS – 8
Candeias never game the Maribor defence a second. Had this game ended 1-1, it would be remembered for his pass which found Morelos offside. Many felt he should have had a shot himself, but looking back the angle wasn’t the best. Played in some dangerous crosses, linked up excellently with Tavernier, and had another strong game.
ALFREDO MORELOS – 9
Morelos was virtually unplayable. The experienced Suler in the Maribor defence must be considering retirement in the immediate aftermath of that match. Morelos ripped him to shreds and deserved the man of the match award. His goal was a good striker’s goal, following up a rebound to tap it in. He should have stayed onside for what would have been his second a minute before Maribor equalised. However, he won the penalty, and the free-kick which eventually led to the third goal.
RYAN KENT – 7
Kent wasn’t as effective getting forward as he can be. In terms of work rate and tactical discipline, he offered loads. A couple of crosses were unlucky, especially one in the second half. There was also almost a goal for him as the ball landed just behind him waiting to be tapped into an empty net.
JAMIE MURPHY – 4
Murphy came on for the last 15 minutes. He was unlucky not to score and put in the cross which led to the third goal.
Andy Halliday and Umar Sadiq also came on, but only for a few minutes at the end of the match.
What were your ratings on the day? Tweet us @abouttherangers with your thoughts!