Don’t blame defenders – Gers must stop cutting corners
Rangers picked up their first three points of the season away to Dundee on Saturday, with a 2-1 win over the Dens Park side.
The Gers looked to have the game put to bed when it seemed we would end the first-half with a comfortable two-goal lead, until the same bad habit crept back in; WE CAN’T DEFEND SET PIECES!
Danny Williams’ out-swinging corner was met at the back post by the unmarked Mark O’Hara. While it’s easy to isolate this incident and point the finger at Joey Barton for leaving his man, this isn’t a one-off, it’s become a regular occurrence and something I hoped we had eradicated come our return to the Scottish Premiership.
Any team keen on improving have to build on their strengths, and more importantly work on their weaknesses. Over the course of last season we were losing goals from set pieces on a regular basis. Falkirk on multiple occasions, Raith Rovers away when we looked to have the league tied up, Celtic in the Scottish Cup Semi Final at Hampden, and most shockingly David Gray’s front post header in the Scottish Cup Final. That’s just to name a few occasions.
We’re now into our second season under Mark Warburton and David Weir, and as consistent as Rangers losing goals from set pieces is, the talk of needing reinforcements at centre-back is never far away. As much as Danny Wilson is weak defensively and Rob Kiernan’s inability to keep possession is at question, Rangers’ expansive football will always leave them exposed and we are forever likely to look under pressure when teams break against us, but our vulnerability from set-pieces is even more worrying. I don’t speak for every Gers fan, but my heart was in my mouth every time Dundee took a corner at the weekend.
No matter what level of football you watch or play, any weaker team coming up against a top side will emphasise the importance of making every set-piece count, and this will always be the case when teams come up against Warburton’s Rangers. Our opposition expect to be without possession for 70% of the game when against the Gers – it’s a fact. So the importance of making every set-piece count when the chance arises is extremely important for smaller clubs, even more so when we’ve been found out to be terrible when defending crossed balls into our box.
So, what’s the solution? Do we have 11 men back for every corner kick? Do we scrap the zonal marking approach and go man-for-man? Or does Wes Foderingham have to be more commanding of his box when under the cosh?
It’s not for me to answer, but one thing is for sure: if the current Rangers squad under Mark Warburton are to secure title number 55 this season they have to find a solution to their dismal defending against set-pieces.