ALLY McCOIST has admitted he thought Steven Gerrard’s tactics in the 1-0 loss against Celtic were “a little strange”.

The Rangers legend, 55, a veteran of this fixture as a player and a boss, was mystified at how the new Ibrox manager set out his team at Parkhead at the weekend.

Brendan Rodgers’ side had a massive SEVENTY-FIVE PER CENT of the possession in the first-half and took the points with Olivier Ntcham’s 62nd-minute goal.

CELTIC IN PARADISE…Rangers in trouble! The Hoops players celebrate Olivier Ntcham’s winner.

McCoist said: “I haven’t spoken to Steven, so I don’t know what the exact plan was, tactically, because if you’re going to sit off Celtic – and that looked like what it was – then I’m not sure I would have selected two up front.

“If that was the case, I’d have gone with five in the middle of the park and said to Celtic: ‘Okay, you can have the ball in that area, but then we’re going to close you down’.

“But, with two forwards, you need to play higher up the pitch. As it was, Celtic were comfortable on the ball; Scott Brown is very good at making space for himself and he’s been doing that for years now.”

Gerrard’s decision to pull all 11 players back into their penalty area to defend set-pieces during that opening 45 minutes also baffled McCoist.

He remarked: “I thought was a little strange, especially when you have two forwards on the pitch. If he could have got away with it, Walter Smith would’ve tried to sneak substitutes on at the posts when we were defending set-pieces, but you do need to have an out ball.

“However, we didn’t get up the park at all, even with the frontmen out there. The gap between our defenders and our forwards was too big.

THE RACE IS ON…Celtic’s £9million man Odsonne Edouard and Rangers’ Connor Goldson challenge for the ball.

“Then, instead of our defence pushing up to make the game tighter, the forwards actually came back to meet them and Rangers weren’t attacking Celtic at all.

“Celtic haven’t looked too convincing defensively and I think Rangers gave them too much respect at the weekend, I really do.

“There was definitely an element of that because the teams which have had any success against Celtic recently have been bang at it and in their faces.

“I’ve seen that at Rugby Park and Tynecastle and to have any chance of beating Celtic, you have to play at a certain tempo. You need to show aggression – and by that I don’t mean kicking people.

“But you need to close people down aggressively and not give them time on the ball because that’s when Celtic look their most vulnerable.

“I don’t think they’re great defensively, but you have to get at them to prove that and Rangers didn’t do it on Sunday.”


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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