Michael Beale had spoken about the potential of using a back three upon the return of John Souttar and he trialled it towards the end of the game against Motherwell. Depending on how you look at it, it can be seen as a back three or a back five, the difference comes in how defensive or attacking the set up the manager creates is. With Rangers dominating possession and the play in most matches it would almost definitely play out as a back three with both wing backs staying high and looking to get involved in the attacking play as much as possible.
Rangers have three CBS who are all very comfortable on the ball and are accomplished passers with varying strengths in their passing abilities. Goldson loves to play the long switch/ball over the top into space whereas Ben Davies and John Souttar are always looking to play passes which break the lines.
Having CBs who are as comfortable on the ball as they are is ideal for this system as it lets the wing backs get forward and worry about defensive duties less which gives the CB on the ball extra options going forward. This is a system which can be used very offensively and helps to create overloads all over the pitch when the wingbacks can operate as wingers in attacking phases of play.
So how would the defence look in this formation? Based off of the look of the team against Motherwell it would seem like Michael Beale would go with;
RWB – Tavernier
RCB – Souttar
CB – Goldson
LCB – Davies
LWB – Ridvan
Playing this system would basically mean the wing backs become wingers which, as previously mentioned, helps to create overloads in attacks while still not leaving you short at the back. Both wing backs strengths come in their attacking play so it would be exciting to see them play with the shackles off with less concern over defensive duties.
Having three CBs also means there is opportunity for one of them to come out and drive forward while still leaving enough at the back to cover. This adds even more options going forward and makes it clear how attacking the set up can be if used correctly. Souttar in particular is very comfortable bringing the ball out and always looks to get the ball up the pitch either by driving or passing through the lines.
Souttar could be key to this system working, he played in a back three for Hearts and has done for Scotland also. He is the epitome of a modern day CB and could thrive in this position for Rangers. In just 42 minutes of football since his comeback he boasts these passing numbers;
15/15 Forward Passes
7/7 Passes to the Final Third
The attempts show how keen he is to get the ball forward and start attacks and the fact he’s made all of the passes shows the quality of his passing ability.
If used in the right way, a back three can be one of the most attacking and exciting formations in football. Are you excited at the prospect of seeing Rangers set up this way?