THAT Rangers will never throw away their playing principles is a prediction James Tavernier believes he can state with conviction because of how he felt after a long throw-in, writes Andrew Smith.
Tavernier, pictured, talks about the “route one” tactic Mark Warburton’s side resorted to when they found themselves drawing 1-1 away to Livingston as if it were akin to drowning puppies. The Rangers squad’s dogged determination to stick to their pass and move was emboldened by events of that late November day.
It is a style he isn’t sure has any equals in the country but is certain can take the Championship leaders forward in the Scottish Cup when they entertain Premiership opponents Dundee next Saturday, and allow them to prosper in the top flight they now appear set for next season.
“In the Livingston game we started to cross the ball in when we shouldn’t have crossed it,” he said. “We started to do things we normally didn’t do, even if we didn’t necessarily launch the ball.
“I took a long throw-in. We don’t do long throw-ins. I’ve learned from it. The team has learned from that. Just to be calm and play our football because we have scored late goals in the league.
“That comes from just playing like we normally do. The manager spoke to us but we all knew after the game with the result [it wasn’t us] and we reflected on it in the analysis the next day. We knew it wasn’t the right approach for the last few minutes. So we have really learned from that and are going in the right direction.”
Tavernier says “100 per cent” that Rangers, who accounted for Kilmarnock in the last round, can cope on a weekly basis with teams possessing more craft and physical presence than they have faced this season.
Dundee, with top-six ambitions, are a step up from the relegation-threatened Rugby Park club. Tavernier offers only a “possibly” to that contention. He doesn’t appear to be overly concerned that the quality of the opposition could inhibit his prospects of claiming a cup semi-final berth on Saturday that would provide him a first visit to Hampden.
“We don’t have a Plan B, we always want to play out. No matter if we are losing or drawing we always want to do the right things. Some games when you are up against physical teams they tend to make it a physical game, maybe with more longer balls. We have learned from that this season. We played a bit longer when we were drawing at Livingston but haven’t really done since, so we have corrected ourselves. It is a learning curve but I am happy with the way we play.
“The recruitment staff have done a brilliant job to go and get players who want to be on the ball. I hate the fact the ball ever gets launched up the field. I want to get the ball as many times as I can. So do the centre halves. We want it as much as we can and just play football in as good a style as possible. Sometimes I’ve been in loan moves, it’s gone a bit longer and you’re not involved that much. That tended to get me irritated. But here everyone loves the way that we play. Everyone is suited to it and I think that’s what benefits us.
“‘I tended watch the Scottish games on television, but probably haven’t seen enough of every game to know whether teams come and play out most of the time. So I can’t really say if there is a team that plays it like us.’