Why Steven Gerrard should be worried about Rangers' predictability

Rangers bombarded Dundee with crosses at Dens Park on Sunday in a frustrating draw. Joel Sked looks at how Steven Gerrard's side can sometimes be too predictable.

In the 65th minute of Rangers’ 1-1 draw at Dundee a graphic popped up showing the second-half stats.

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Despite enjoying 85 per cent of possession Steven Gerrard’s men had yet to have a shot compared to 10-man Dundee’s one.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard saw his side become too predictable against Dundee on Sunday. Picture: SNS/Craig Williamson

It was a pattern which would largely continue until Alan Muir brought the game to a close after three minutes of stoppage time and no further goals.

Rangers had a right to feel aggrieved with the draw in that they had a perfectly good Kyle Lafferty goal wrongly ruled offside in the first half but it wasn’t something which Gerrard got caught up on at full-time. Aside from a comment about the unusual behaviour of the match delegate his ire was reserved for his players.

He made six changes to the side which lost at home to Aberdeen in midweek, and bemoaned those players who had been knocking on his door for more game time but failed to deliver.

“It won’t happen again,” Gerrard said about the changes. “People knock on the door. People shake their head when they are not in the team. People are disappointed but that’s fine, that’s football.

“But when you are given a chance, go and back it up, go and perform. Give me a problem and a headache. It is pretty easy, pretty straightforward for me now.

“I know the players I can trust and it is a reality check today that we are not good enough to make six changes.”

Yet, the second-half performance against a Dundee side with 10 men and who came into the fixture bottom of the table, was nothing new. Rangers have been capable of blitzing opponents but on occasion the team have been incredibly predictable, namely in defeats at home to Aberdeen and at Livingston.

When competent opponents are capable of defending narrow and in numbers Rangers revert to the same tactic: get the ball wide and cross it.

Glenn Middleton and Borna Barisic were brought on at half-time and during the second period respectively meaning Rangers had a wide man and full-back on both sides of the pitch who were capable of delivering a deluge of deliveries, and that’s what they did.

Against Aberdeen Rangers hit 36 crosses, including corner kicks. In the second half against Dundee alone there were 40 attempts.

Very few of those 40 reached their target. Cammy Kerr on the right for Dundee and Calvin Miller and Paul McGowan on the left did an extremely good job of blocking attempts or simply putting pressure on. In the middle Genseric Kusunga and Andy Boyle were constantly providing clearances and Jack Hamilton collected crosses confidently.

Rangers’ issues were compounded with Andy Halliday and Ryan Jack in the midfield in front of Joe Worrall and Connor Goldson. The quartet were guilty of passing between themselves, slowing play down and allowing Dundee to get everyone behind the ball and form a low block.

Ovie Ejaria, who replaced Halliday, offered a bit more drive and verticality yet the team were clearly missing the presence of Alfredo Morelos in attack and Scott Arfield’s runs from deep. Ryan Kent was the most impressive performer in the first half before being subbed. The on-loan Liverpool attacker was picking up the ball in dangerous zones and providing penetrative advances.

Without that trio Rangers are far too one-dimensional and predictable.

It is an issue which should be of concern to Gerrard and the Rangers management team. However, if the fans are aware of the lack of No.10 the coaching staff should be too.

Gerrard has talked of the need for another striker to be added, which is correct, but more importantly is the player behind the striker, someone who can provide Rangers with more solutions in the centre of the pitch, rather than just: get it wide and cross.