From the first time he stepped out at Ibrox, the Rangers faithful knew they had something special on their hands with James Tavernier.
Burnley’s visit to Glasgow for a pre-season friendly allowed Tavernier to showcase his talent on the day he committed his future to the Scottish giants. And he did just that.
After instantly looking the part against the English side with his marauding runs up the right flank, Tavernier’s form has got better with each game he has played.
Tavernier has done all his impressing further up the pitch. Nine goals in eighteen appearances isn’t bad for a right-back.
His playing career kicked off at Leeds United, just a short journey from his place of birth. After spending seven years at Elland Road, the 24-year-old moved to Newcastle United.
After impressing at 17, he was given his first team debut in the League Cup. His first start came just under a year later in the same competition.
In two years, two cup run outs and only being named as a substitute for a Premier League match, Tavernier moved on. He was shipped out to Gateshead, Carlisle United, Sheffield Wednesday, Milton Keynes Dons, Shrewsbury Town and Rotherham United, all on loan, in the space of three seasons. Before he left to join Wigan Athletic in the Championship on a permanent basis.
He was on the road again six months later. Bristol City in January offered more game time in the league below, but despite helping them win League One and gain promotion, Tavernier was strangely unwanted for the club’s step up.
His many experiences with short team deals may be the answer to him getting off to such a superb start to life at Rangers. Tavernier is used to producing an immediate impact, which is exactly what Mark Warburton and the fans demanded of the reshuffled pack at the start of this campaign.
The Bradford-born defender had no grumbles over swapping England’s glamour for Scotland’s second tier. His new manager spoke about his players needing to be street fighters in handling smaller opponents looking to scalp their famous name. Tavernier has welcomed that, and so have the whole squad s they are playing the most attractive football at Rangers for a long time.
“As a Yorkshireman, we used to love going in for hard challenges,” Tavernier said. “When I was in the academy at Leeds, we’d have competitions to smash into each other. That’s definitely in my game.”
The fans at Ibrox have warmed to Tavernier. It’s not hard when his displays are so great, but his attitude and style since arriving shows he’s taken to his new club and supporters massively.
The cavalier full-back, who had never scored a goal until his 46th professional game, is having no trouble with finding the net in the Scottish Championship. Opposition teams see him as Rangers’ main threat.
No one knew much about him when he lined up a free-kick on his debut against Hibernian in the Challenge Cup. It ended up nestling in the back of the net, the first of three goals from such a position so far this term — all sensational strikes.
Last Sunday, Tavernier and his teammates suffered their first league defeat of the season, with twelve games played. Their second visit to Easter Road proved hugely different to their first, and not for the better. Alan Stubbs’ side have now kicked themselves into gear and are hot on Rangers’ trail – just five points behind.
Tavernier was once again the vocal point of every attack during the Hibernian defeat. If that plan continues, starting against Alloa Athletic at home on Saturday, a thriving Tavernier and Rangers will be back flying in no time and secure all three points.