Did Steven Gerrard Make Rookie Mistakes That Cost Rangers Win At Motherwell?

Motherwell and Rangers certainly gave us an entertaining thriller at Fir Park this weekend, as their Scottish Premiership tie finished in a 3-3 draw.

Probably for the first time since his arrival, we saw a few errors from new Gers boss Steven Gerrard.

Whether it was because Gerrard feared Well’s physical presence up-top or because he wanted Kyle Lafferty to partner Alfredo Morelos in the striking positions, the Rangers manager went with a 3-5-2 formation instead of playing with the usual flat back four.

It wasn’t disastrous nor was it brilliant.

I know managers like to be able to tinker with team selections and formations, just to show that they can grind out results with different personnel and tactics but Rangers are at the very start of the project under Steven and I personally think it would have made more sense to leave things as they were.

In their opening ten games of the campaign, Rangers had only conceded four times and had kept six clean-sheets, why change that solid backline formation?

You could have given Morelos a breather and started Lafferty up-front or maybe the Northern Irishman could’ve directly replaced the injured Jamie Murphy on the lefthand side.

When discussing the attackers, who gave a lot to the team, I also believe it might have been better for Gerrard to throw on AS Roma loanee Umar Sadiq when there was just twenty minutes or so remaining. It would have freshened things in attack and he could have used his pace to try and pin Motherwell back as Rangers searched to close the game.

Some things you can’t always legislate for, an example of that was Connor Goldson’s erratic display in Lanarkshire. Motherwell have smart, no-nonsense type forwards and they are always a handful for centre-backs. Goldson didn’t look comfortable for much of the afternoon and that was certainly true when he slipped on the wet surface allowing Well to take an early lead.

All day, Goldson just looked agitated and not as composed as he has done previously. I also think that the player himself will be feeling it, he hardly played last year and now he’s playing two games a week regularly and that sometimes brings with it mental and physical fatigue.

One thing Gerrard and his management can do is work with team captain James Tavernier when it comes to defending set-pieces.

The right full-back gave yet another Jekyll and Hyde performance, good going forward but he was poor at the back. The Gers conceded twice from set-plays at Fir Park and twice it was Tavernier that switched off and he didn’t go with his man. His concentration levels have to be better in those situations.

I lost count how many times Rangers couldn’t manage a game last season and see out a victory.

The draws against Aberdeen and Motherwell show that Gerrard still has to iron out a few of those same issues. In fairness to the Gers gaffer, he could see that his team were playing to deep for much of the second period against Stephen Robinson’s men but they didn’t react to his warnings.

Then there was the last gasp substitution.

Just as Motherwell were preparing to take the final corner kick of the game, Gerrard decided to bring on former skipper Lee Wallace. It’s always dangerous bringing on a player as your about to defend a corner.

After the game Steven stated:

“They had four or five big units on there then I have a defender sitting behind me who is 6ft 3in, and with all due respect to Ovie Ejaria – and he was good today – Lee Wallace is a lot better at defending set-pieces. That was the thinking behind it.”

“If I’ve got it wrong I’ll take the blame, no problem.”

The problem wasn’t bringing Wallace on, it was just the timing of the substitution. In the dying moments, sometimes you’ll make a sub to disrupt play and wind the clock down and that’s understandable.

But at a last minute corner you’re handing a team, that are chasing the game, more time to prepare for the set-piece. In the last seconds you want the opposition to take a corner quickly, giving the taker less time to pick out someone or spot a weakness in your penalty area.

It’s also not great for the guy coming on. He’s entering the field cold and straight into an important part of the game.

When you watch the final minute equaliser again, you’ll notice that Lee also struggled to keep up with his man and got caught underneath the ball.

We should also respect Motherwell’s performance. They didn’t give up and they were very diligent in sticking to Robinson’s game plan. An away point at Fir Park is certainly not an embarrassing result for any side in the Premiership.

Now Gerrard’s going to make mistakes, it’s his first managerial job after all. It’s important that the Rangers boss learns from the battle in Lanarkshire and gets his team to see out games.

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