James Tavernier reveals his full-back inspirations
If James Tavernier and his team-mates had been wearing red shirts rather than blue when he scored the decisive goal in their 2-1 win over Galatasaray at Ibrox, they wouldn’t have looked out of place.
The sweeping nine-pass move which carried Rangers from one end of the pitch to another before Tavernier finished it off was straight out of the Liverpool playbook.
There remains a significant difference in levels, of course, between the Ibrox side and the English Premier League champions. But the manner in which Rangers captain Tavernier and his fellow full-back Borna Barisic are contributing so much to their team in an attacking sense is currently more than a little reminiscent of the influence Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson have for Jurgen Klopp’s stellar side.
Tavernier, who has now scored seven goals in his last seven games, says the inspirations for his full-back play date back a bit further but he is happy to accept the comparison.
“Trent is a lot younger than me,” smiles the 28-year-old. “But those two, Trent and Andy Robertson, have been at the top of their game. They won the Premier League last season and are instrumental in the way Liverpool play.
"They are top players in a top team and it's always good to look at how they are playing, and compare your game.
"But I always look back at the likes of Dani Alves, Marcelo and Cafu - top full-backs who are or were instrumental in their team.
"Me and Borna are always trying to push each other on with our deliveries and set-pieces. We always have a little joke about assists and I'll say to him, 'That's one more' when he gets one.
"We are in the team to, first and foremost, keep goals out. After that, we are in there to provide for the team.
"If that's goals, assists or other play, then that's what we need to do and what the gaffer requires from us.
"Borna has had a great start to the season and his assists are racking up. It was a great goal on Thursday when you look back at it, starting all the way from the back and building up the pitch.
"Luckily enough, I managed to meet Borna’s cross at the end of it and put it in the back of the net. We are very proud of that as that's the football we like to play."
Tavernier, who has been named SPFL Player of the Month for September, has bounced back impressively after many pundits - and no shortage of Rangers supporters - were questioning his attributes during a difficult spell last season.
“I’ve always been mentally tough, even when I first came here,” he reflects. “That’s just my character, even growing up from when I was young. I always enjoy a challenge, I never hide away from it.
“If there is criticism or you’re getting applause if you’re doing well, it’s just something you have to take it on board and always try to improve yourself as a person and as a player.
“That’s something I want to do in life, always make myself better. There is obviously still room for improvement in all aspects within myself and I look forward to working on that.”
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