Rangers' changed formation 'didn't work' in first half against St Johnstone says pundit, before Steven Gerrard reverts to familiar set-up

Steven Gerrard’s tactical tweak in the second half helped Rangers stay unbeaten – and was predicted by BBC pundit Neil McCann who believed his former team ‘didn’t look the same side’ in their new-look formation.

St Johnstone's Liam Gordon and Kemar Roofe in action during a Scottish Premiership match between St Johnstone and Rangers at McDiarmid Park, on April 21, 2021, in Perth, Scotland. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

Rangers shifted away from their usual 4-3-3 set-up, towards a 4-4-2 structure with Ianis Hagi and Scott Wright either side of Steven Davis and Glen Kamara and Kemar Roofe partnering Cedric Itten up front.

However it was a fairly tame first half which slowly built momentum after early pressure from the home side on Jon McLaughlin’s goal – but it never really got going. Scott Wright did open the scoring in the second half with Rangers looking more familiar in shape and McCann noted the tactical move in his post-match summary after highlighting the issues at half-time.

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Steven Gerrard rang the changes in his line-up - making seven swaps from the side which defeated Celtic on Sunday. ( Rob Casey/POOL via SNS/PA Wire)

The former Rangers winger said: “Steven Gerrard might need to get back to a more settled shape – I don’t think this new one has really worked and didn’t give him any rhythm in the early stages of the match and that allowed St Johnstone to be really aggressive and get into good areas.

"Maybe Steven is just boxing clever to throw Callum Davidson a wee curve ball and just saying ‘we can change’ but I don’t think they’ve looked the same side.

“If anything it might be a tweak back to what we know – that really effective three – front players coming in almost like two tens.

“Barisic has been up in high areas twice and Tavernier once, and that is not the usual play. I know you play full-backs flatter against wing-backs to draw them out, but I don’t think it’s worked.”

‘Unbeaten streak is what matters’: Fans react to Rangers draw with St Johnstone

The change did bring a second half goal for Scott Wright though – a lovely curled finish from the edge of the box – but Rangers were picked off late by a Liam Craig penalty deep into injury time having played out the second half back as a 4-3-3 with several more changes to Steven Gerrard’s line-up which included seven swaps from the Sunday win over Celtic in the Scottish Cup.

At full-time McCann noted on BBC Sportsound: “Rangers reverted to their preferred formation and made some substitutions to freshen things up.”

Rangers face St Johnstone again, in the Scottish Cup quarter final, this Sunday.

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