Steven Gerrard: Rangers boss picked a back three at Motherwell. Did it cost him?

Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard deployed a back three, with James Tavernier and Borna Barisic as wing-backs
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When something is going well for you, why change it?

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard had huge success in his first 10 games in charge by playing a back four. They kept six clean sheets. Only conceded four times. And did not lose a single goal away from home in three European ties.

So why go to a back three for Sunday's trip to Motherwell?

To me, it seems that Gerrard did it so he could get Kyle Lafferty into the side alongside Alfredo Morelos in attack in a sort of 3-5-2 shape.

But Motherwell use that system and the decision played into their hands and contributed to Rangers' spilling two points, with Peter Hartley's stoppage-time goal earning the Fir Park side a 3-3 draw that they fully deserved.

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Highlights: Motherwell 3-3 Rangers

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Rangers' fine form has been founded on settled defensive quartet. Conor Goldson and Nikola Katic have been resolute centre backs. Jon Flanagan has looked composed at left-back. And James Tavernier has been a threat advancing on the right.

But Gerrard switched to a three and they looked disorganised. They switched off for set-plays, with Tavernier culpable of losing his man for Motherwell's second and third goals. Allan McGregor could possibly have come and claimed the cross for the equaliser - he's three yards out - but Tavernier does not mark his man properly.

I'm pretty sure the Rangers manager will want to dig into fine details about the defending at set-plays and he'll have a word with Tavernier. He'll not dig Goldson out for the first goal, though. He slipped. That happens and it's not a defensive mistake.

They're still undefeated and have taken a point at a difficult away venue. It's not as if it's a disaster.

But Gerrard will have a warning for his team: if they defend like that when they face FC Ufa in Russia on Thursday, they will be knocked out of the Europa League. Their 1-0 first-leg lead will not be enough.

I think you'll find they will return to a back four for that game.

Steven Thompson was speaking to BBC Scotland's Andrew Southwick

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