How Steven Gerrard plans to incorporate James Tavernier and Nathan Patterson in Rangers team - but system is still a work in progress

Steven Gerrard says it is still a work in progress, but finding a solution to his right-back selection dilemma may create an all-new problem for opposition managers aiming at shutting down Rangers’ well-drilled formation of the past three years.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Nathan Patterson’s emergence last season as a more than able understudy for James Tavernier, and genuine first-team contender for the right-back position, has given the Rangers manager something new to consider as they prepare to defend their first title in a decade.

In Saturday's 2-2 draw with Arsenal, Gerrard introduced the Scotland international in the second half and shifted his captain into more advanced positions against Mikel Arteta’s side.

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Utilising both players within one team is still a work in progress, but one that Gerrard will persist with to make the most of all talent at his disposal in the new campaign on a domestic and European front. That in turn might deviate from how Rangers have previously played, creating all new problems for opposition managers who have sought to stifle the 4-3-3 that performed so effectively in last season’s unbeaten league campaign and Europa League run.

Rangers Nathan Patterson and James Tavernier have both impressed at right-back - giving their boss a selection headache of a positive kind. (Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz / SNS Group)

“We’re going to consider it because they’re two really good players,” Gerrard said of Tavernier and Patterson. “But it’s not something that’s going to happen with the flick of a switch. We’ll try to get working on it in training, we’re going to have to get them used to it.

“They’re two fantastic players and I can’t have one of them on the bench for every game of the season, that’s for sure. There’ll be times when it’ll suit us, there’ll be times when I don’t need it. But it is something that’s on my mind and something we’re going to experiment with.

“Once everyone’s back I have to have variety because some teams and managers will try and stop this system, because they’ve seen it for years now and within games I might have to tweak something, just to keep people thinking.

“I didn’t want to change system during the game against Arsenal, we had too many changes, so I didn’t want to go to a 4-1-4-1.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard will work on new systems. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

"If we use this system it’ll maybe be in a back three where James is out wide where he’s more used to being. It’s a work in progress and it’s very early days.”

Rangers led twice against the Gunners on the specially arranged friendly to commemorate the club’s 150th anniversary season, with headed goals from Leon Balogun and Cedric Itten.

As he often was last year, the Swiss striker was again used as a substitute against Arsenal but impressed in addition to his goal – greeted by cheers from the select crowd inside Ibrox for the first time since March 2020.

Gerrard praised the forward and, speaking to Rangers TV, added: “It was a real tough year for Cedric but I thought when he came on her was a real good option from the bench for us. When I asked him to start he never let me down.

"He’s come back for pre-season smiling, full of energy and ready to prove his point and stake a claim. He’s certainly doing himself no harm at the moment.

“The noise from 2000 was good but everyone’s looking forward and craving having [Ibrox] full.”

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