On the verge of adding his 11th signing of the summer in former Arsenal man Phillipe Senderos, Rangers boss Mark Warburton says he’s still to find the right balance in his starting XI.
It’s hardly surprising. Especially in midfield and attack there is a plethora of options for Warburton to pick from.
To go through a few of the possible permutations, we enlisted the help of three members of The Terrace Scottish Football Podcast, who gave their take on Rangers’ strongest side.
GRAEME THEWLISS (@thisGRAEME)
GK - Wes Foderingham
RB - James Tavernier; DC - Clint Hill; DC - Rob Kiernan; DL - Lee Wallace
Hill brings experience and leadership qualities, something which Kiernan and Wilson lack as a pair. This will make up for his ageing legs struggling to cover the ground behind the high defensive line. I’ve never been convinced by Phillipe Senderos at any moment in his career and I don’t see why the Scottish top flight will be any different.
MRC - Andy Halliday; DM - Joey Barton; MLC - Josh Windass
The theme of this team is going to be direct running. Windass will join the two wingers to make a terrifying trinity of runners who’ll frighten the life out of opposing defenders for 90 minutes. Halliday gets the nod ahead of Holt, who may not have the quality required to perform every week at the top flight level, while there’s no much point in having Barton and Rossiter in the same side, unless away from home to a tough opponent, as each perform similar roles.
RW - Harry Forrester; FC - Martyn Waghorn; LW - Barrie McKay
Until I’ve seen more of Joe Garner and Joe Dodoo, Waghorn remains the first choice striker at Rangers when fit. Forrester gets the nod ahead of Kenny Miller to continue the ‘terrifying runners’ theme.
CRAIG FOWLER (@craigfowler86)
GK - Wes Foderingham
DR - James Tavernier; DC - Rob Kiernan; DC - Danny Wilson; DL - Lee Wallace
Upgrading at centre back was Rangers’ pressing need coming into this season and it’s highly doubtful whether they’ve managed to do that. Both Hill and Senderos have impressive pedigrees but the former might be rather long in the tooth to adapt well to Rangers’ high line, while the latter hasn’t played consistent first-team football in three years. The full-backs, who many insisted would be “found out” at the top flight level, have performed admirably thus far.
MRC - Joey Barton; DM - Jordan Rossiter; MLC - Jason Holt
The defence needs extra protection in what’s still a very attacking line-up, so I’ve opted to include Rossiter and Barton as both have the ability to scrap and win possession back from the opposing team. My two colleagues have decided to dismiss Holt, but that’s only because they don’t appreciate his importance to the team. He’s the man, more than any other player, capable of getting Rangers’ passing game going. He gets and moves the ball, before moving himself into open space, quicker than any one else in the side. They’ve missed that input since moving up to the top flight.
RW - Martyn Waghorn; FC - Kenny Miller; LW - Barrie McKay
Garner will probably get a place in here somewhere once I’ve seen him play in Scotland. For the meantime I’ve gone for Miller over Forrester, which was a very tough decision. The midfielder has looked excellent so far this season, but Warburton does seem to prefer two strikers in the starting XI when both Miller and Waghorn are fit, and even though it forces one of them out on the right, it does tend to work more often than not. Besides, a problem with Rangers is their lack of ruthlessness in the final third, and extracting a striker wouldn’t help solve it.
TONY ANDERSON (@tonyterrace)
GK - Wes Foderingham
DR - James Tavernier; DC - Rob Kiernan; DC - Clint Hill; DL - Lee Wallace
Along the same lines of what Graeme said, Rangers need a leader at the back and even if he may get caught out individually at times this season, Hill’s presence may enable them to close some of the gaps that appear all across the back line. Foderingham has done an excellent job at keeping Matt Gilks in the back-up role. Thanks to a few errors at the tail end of last season, when the whole team switched off, some see him as unreliable, but he’s looked great in the top flight so far, making zero mistakes while pulling off a couple of eye-catching saves.
MRC - Joey Barton; DM - Jordan Rossiter; MLC - Niko Kranjcar
There’s flexibility in this trio as Rossiter and Barton can sit further back, creating a 4-2-3-1, which would allow Kranjcar the space in which to roam. While the Croatian may not be a natural fit in Warburton’s system, it’s clear from his appearance on Saturday that he’s got more than enough quality to succeed in this league. If he’s given greater license to float around the midfield, he should thrive.
RW - Harry Forrester: FC - Martyn Waghorn: LW - Barrie McKay
It’s so hard to leave out Miller on his current form. It’s like he’s ten years younger, not only in terms of quality but the manner in which he still plays the game by doing an incredible amount of running in the final third. However, Forrester gives the side added guile and would still allow Warburton to rotate his attackers, as he did in the Dundee game, when Waghorn is back.