Rangers manager Mark Warburton has rubbished the idea that the rigidity he shows in sticking by a 4-3-3 formation makes them an all-too-predictable foe for Celtic, with memories of being thumped 5-1 by them last month still fresh when the Old Firm meet in this afternoon’s Betfred League Cup semi-final at Hampden.
Warburton, seeking to a bring a trophy to Ibrox for the first time since Rangers’ liquidation in 2012, was defensive over the suggestions there was an unhelpful absence of flexibility in how he sets up his team.
“We didn’t press enough last time, that is for sure. This rigidity of tactics [though]... because we don’t go with three at the back, or go with two strikers, do people not think we move within the system?” Warburton countered. “Does Barrie McKay not drift in and allow the full-backs to go, or both full-backs come in together, all these various things that happen within the formation of a football team?
“I keep hearing ‘he is stuck in the plan, he won’t change’ – look at the game, gents. I have played three at the back only once, against Hibs away, again that was down to personnel. Am I going to go direct, long ball, 4-4-2? No, I am not going to ever do that. Because it doesn’t suit and it isn’t the way the game should be played. My teams won’t play that way.
“I don’t rail against [criticisms over not having a Plan B]. It is football, it is opinion. I don’t mind that. But it is a lack of awareness to look at how I play. Is Barrie McKay’s movement the same all the time? Why does Lee Wallace find himself on the edge of their area more times than not? Why does Tav go on the outside, and one go on the inside? Overlaps, underlaps. There is movement in how we play, one of many, many various different combinations in how we play.”