The right back position may not always be the top priority, most important or glamorous of roles in many sides, but for Rangers, it has become one of the most reliable this season with the hugely impressive form of James Tavernier. Signing the Englishman on an extended deal was something that made sense to all parties involved.
Tavernier arrived at Ibrox from Wigan via stops with Newcastle, MK Dons, Carlisle and Sheffield Wednesday amongst others.
Somewhat of a journeyman player despite his relative youth. He never truly found a home until now, signed by ex boss Mark “the snake” Warburton for just £200,000: a fee that looks a bargain at double the price.
In his early days with Rangers it was his free kick ability and attacking threat from his right back role that really caught the eye, many people wondering just why a player of such ability had gone so far under the radar and been part of a Wigan side that was relegated from the English Championship.
Scoring a quite remarkable free kick on his first start for the light blues, at long last again Rangers had a set piece threat. Something that, for too long, was missing.
His fragility and kryptonite were also as glaring as his attacking ability was apparent. Tavernier was found wanting in defensive situations on more than a number of isolated occasions, often going to sleep at the back post or being unable to track his man, causing goals for the opposition.
MORE RANGERS STORIES
This was a pattern of play that continued right through the Warburton and Pedro Caixinha eras. Unfortunately, many fans were left split on just what the advantages of having such an attack minded full back were if it left us so open and prone to conceding at the other end.
This season, however, in all honesty since Murty has assumed control, Tavernier’s all round performances have reached new heights. A great deal of credit must, of course, go to the player for working on aspects of his game that maybe he didn’t find so natural, but also to Murty: a right back in his own right. I have no doubt in my mind that it is his personal input that has helped developed Tav into the player we now see most weeks.
Lapses in concentration are still apparent, like we witnessed against Hibs a few weeks back. In spite of this, what impressed me most was Tavernier’s handling of the situation afterwards, accepting full responsibility for his actions and vowing to improve.
The Scottish Cup match with Ayr saw him deservedly named captain for the match, a sure sign of how highly the management and players rate him, both as a player and as a man.
Tying him down is fantastic business for the club, if somebody wants to buy the player they will now have no choice but to pay a premium. If he stays we have a fantastic player and character around the dressing room.
The last time Rangers had a right back as one of its highest earners was Steven Whittaker and we all know how that turned out. Personally I feel this is different, not only is Tav a better player in my eyes, but he is young and hungry for success.
Get in touch with your views please, I’m happy to debate.