Rangers' 2015-16 season is over, and while it ended on a disappointing - Hibs, ffs - note, it was pretty good overall.
Here on GTBFO we'll be taking a look back at the team as a whole and boiling them down to their constituent parts. It's time to give the report card for everybody in the team, and we'll start at the back. Keep an eye out for the following parts over the next week.
As anybody who has been to Ibrox since the Warbolution will tell you, the major downside of the new short passing game played by the team is the reaction of the over-45's in the stands. Ibrox may be our home, but it is also where you go to get "GET IT UP THE PARK", "PUT IT IN THE BOX", and "GET IT DOWN THE LINE" bellowed in your ear by a taxi driver for 90 minutes.
One area the da's of Ibrox may have a point with, however, is Wes Foderingham. Initially looking slightly dodgy, hopes of a David de Gea-esque transformation proved short-lived as he had a good spell before sinking back down again with some bizarre errors. To make matters worse, his shot-stopping has hardly been phenomenal or consistent to make up for it, leaving him ultimately with a pretty mediocre season.
Foderingham is hardly in desperate need of replacement, but it would be poor management if we didn't have a serious alternative ready to deputise for next season. CH
Tavernier had initially been a divisive presence among the Ibrox support as to whether he was a genius who was worth £20m or a total liability who inflated his stats by wellying the odd one in against Dumbarton. Now, there seems to be a consensus that his defensive abilities are non-existent and we should give serious thought to replacing him.
A load of pish. Tavernier's absurd haul of goals and assists more than cancelled out some occasional dodgy displays at the back, and it's also worth noting that such performances almost always coincided with either A) Dominic Ball not being in the side, B) The defence as a whole being a total shambles all across the park, or as was common, C) Both. Tavernier is not a good enough defender to be able to excel in a backline that has lost all protection and sense of positioning. But in a functioning back four he does a fine job, as we've seen many times this season, notably against Celtic.
Oh, and those goals? Not exactly the product of flat-track bullying. From the start to the end of the season, nobody has come up with bigger, more spectacular or more important strikes. Tavernier has constantly been present for the decisive moments, with his goals almost all winners, equalisers, or game-killers, and has been a threat even when he hasn't played well. Some people say we shouldn't accomodate a right-back who can't defend. The simple truth is our system requires a dedicated defensive midfielder. And if you think someone who can contribute to 40 goals a season isn't worth 'accomodating', then you're probably one of those weird tactics nerds who think, idk, Dries Mertens is better than Cristiano Ronaldo, or something. In which case, get tae. CH
There are a variety of trajectories for how individual Rangers players' seasons went, although most started erratically, plateaued on a high, then suffered an alarming crash at the very end. Rob Kiernan probably fits that template more than anyone.
There was one period where Rangers looked like one of the most solid teams in the country at the back, but even then, the Kiernan-Wilson partnership never truly convinced. The increased solidity had far more to do with the insertion of Dominic Ball into a defensive midfield role, and in general Kiernan and Wilson took it in turns to make mistakes as usual.
But then came the fall. And it was pretty severe. The Scottish Cup Final was the absolute nadir, Kiernan putting in a spectacularly bad performance and seemingly convincing himself Anthony Stokes was Zinedine Zidane. His refusal to get close to him all game cost Rangers the cup, and he probably looks the worst of the pairing as a result.
That could be significant. Because Rangers desperately need centre-backs, and the Wilson-Kiernan pairing isn't fit for purpose. At least one will have to go. At the moment, it's looking like the latter, despite the odd dislike of Danny Wilson among the support. CH
Something of a coup at the start of the season ended up with Wilson being one of the most average performers on the team. Unlike his counterpart, there were few real shockers, just a general, consistent meandering between the extremes of 6/10 and 8/10 as he coasted throughout the season.
And that was how it looked. Coasting. Wilson is so much better than this, but he isn't showing it and we can't possibly assume he will next season. He probably just edges Kiernan out right now, but ideally we'd sign a better centre-back than either and leave the two members of last year's partnership to fight for the remaining place. With someone better-equipped to cover his weaknesses he could still be an excellent player, but he needs to try harder too. CH
The 2015/16 PFA Scotland Championship Player of the Year has been a stand-out player this year as Rangers romped to promotion. Nine goals and thirteen assists from left back has been a tremendous return and Wallace's link-up play with Barrie McKay throughout the season has been a vital part of Rangers success. Regularly finding himself in attacking positions Wallace has been, probably, the best left back in the country this season.
Defensively Wallace sometimes attracts a bit of criticism but he has been consistently relied upon this season. A number of goal-line clearances and last-gasp tackles has seen Wallace spare his colleagues blushes repeatedly. As captain he has regularly been spoken of as a key individualin the dressing room bringing experience to a group of players who, in some cases, lack knowledge of the Scottish game. Unfortunate not to earn a Scotland recall, Wallace has spoken repeatedly of his desire to lift trophies as captain of Rangers being the reason he stayed with the club in 2012.
As well as being recognised by his peers across the Scottish game, Wallace was also honoured by the club's supporters winning the Rangers Player of the Year award after an online vote. Wallace will make his fiftieth appearance of the season in the Scottish Cup final on May 21st. After his performances so far, few would say he doesn't deserve to lift his first Scottish Cup as Rangers captain. JB
Signed on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, Ball arrived in Glasgow with a little less buzz around him than fellow loanees Nathan Oduwa and Gedion Zelalem. Making 30 appearances over the course of the season Ball found himself used mainly as back-up to Danny Wilson and Rob Kiernan before getting used later in the season in midfield.
Fans have been impressed with his performances this season and despite his inexperience at first team level, he looked composed in possession, confident in the tackle and is a good passer of the ball. When used in midfield, sitting deep protecting the central defenders, the side were harder to break down and he offered something different to Andy Halliday in the same role.
Reports down south suggest his performances for Rangers will see Spurs' boss Mauricio Pochettino make the young Englishman part of his first team squad next season. If not he would be more than welcome to return to Ibrox for another season and build on a fantastic first loan spell. JB