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Rangers Eureka moment talked up as another way Tavernier and Patterson can flourish together is eyed

Daily Record logoDaily Record 22/07/2021 Andy Newport

IF it ain’t broke, why fix it?

That may be the question on the minds of some Rangers fans after hearing Steven Gerrard reveal last weekend he is

considering tinkering with his title-winning formula.

The Ibrox boss has stuck rigidly to a 4-3-3 system since marching arriving on Edmiston Drive back three years ago.

It has taken a fair amount of drill work to eventually whip the Light Blues into championship shape but as last season’s

Invincible campaign proved, few could handle Gerrard-ball.

Yet having finally got his side running like clockwork, the Gers boss says it is time to rip it up and try something new.

Why? Well the emergence of Nathan Patterson as a pretender to the previously undroppable James Tavernier ’s throne at right-back seems to be the main reason, along with Gerrard’s worry that opposition bosses might be sussing out his game tried-and-trusted masterplan.

Patterson’s potential means playing second fiddle to the captain is out of the question.

The new Scotland ace is brimming with talent but he needs minutes to take his game to the next level.

Leaving out skipper Tavernier, last season’s leading scorer with his incredible 19-goal haul, is no answer so Gerrard is searching for a way to accommodate both in the same line-up.

Leon Balogun standing next to a football ball © Getty Images

During Saturday’s draw with Arsenal at Ibrox, the faithful were given a glimpse of the manager’s first attempt at a workable solution as the captain was thrust forward into a slot on the right-hand side of the front three while Patterson took up his normal role in defence.

But former Gers midfielder Alex Rae reckons Gerrard should take a look at Scotland boss Steve Clarke’s playbook and adopt the same work-around which allowed him to fit both his world-class left-backs Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney into the same line-up.

A dilemma that has dogged the national team for years was finally solved in the run-up to Scotland’s return to tournament action at this summer’s Euros, with Robertson shunting to wing-back and Tierney given

the licence to roam from the left-hand side of a back three.

Speaking to Record Sport, Rae said: “The 4-3-3 system Steven Gerrard used last season was really successful.

“They had a way of playing that the guys starting and those coming off the bench were really familiar with.

“But what you have now is Steven looking for another option, and for me that is the right thing to do.

“There are going to be times over the coming season where Rangers will need to mix it up and try a different shape because supporters are concerned about Patterson’s situation.

“The kid is a huge talent but with him playing in the same position as the captain, people are worried he might not get enough game time.

“So what Steven said at the weekend is obviously one of the solutions they have come up with behind the scenes.

“To get Nathan and Tav in the same team, I imagine they’re thinking about playing a back three with Tav at right centre-half and Patterson at wing-back.

“You could try out something similar to the way Scotland were playing at the Euros with Tierney underlapping round Robertson. Can you imagine both Tavernier and Patterson bombing down the right with their pace and physicality?

“I’m not sure many sides could cope with that.

“England do it too with Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier and it worked to really good effect against the likes of Germany during the summer.

“They might also look to push Tavernier into a more advanced role, like he did against Arsenal.

“So I’m really fascinated to see what they come up with and what shape they do end up playing to get both these guys into the team.”

There are those who will fear Rangers are taking a risk in experimenting with a new strategy when their first battle to reach the Champions League in just around the corner.

But Rae said: “Is it a gamble to rip up a title winning formula? I don’t think so. You see teams changing shape all the time and 4-3-3 is not the be-all, end-all.

“I like that they’re looking to mix things up and it’s important they find a way of getting Nathan into the team, not only for his development but also for the message it sends to the lads in the academy about the pathway to the first team.

“There hasn’t been a lot of kids breaking through in recent years but when you have a kid of this quality, you can’t hold him back.

“Moving to three at the back might allow them to stick with that attacking front three. Only time will tell if it works but there’s no harm in trying in certain games where they’ll still be expected to win.”

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