Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Rangers: Why Connor Goldson deserves his place over Nikola Katic

Football Writers' Association: Opening the Door to BAME Journalists

Connor Goldson has a curious knack of dividing opinion. While some Rangers supporters slammed his performance against Feyenoord, despite ending it with a clean sheet, others were quick to hush the boo-boys when he netted against St. Johnstone on Sunday.

His inclusion of late has partly come at the expense of Nikola Katic; after Football Insider reported that Steven Gerrard was considering wielding the axe on Katic having seen Goldson scald him on the pitch against Livingston, Filip Helander has replaced him in the starting XI as the former Brighton man’s centre-back partner.

So bearing in mind how much he does indeed split the Rangers support, what does Goldson bring to the backline that Katic doesn’t?

Goldson is outperforming Katic in a number of key areas at the moment, but the first is perhaps the most important. The Croatian passes the eye test with his all-action style but statistically he concedes significantly more chances than the Englishman. The Gers Report on Twitter details what percentage of chances come from Katic’s side of the defence in relation to Goldson’s.

In the most basic of terms, around 8 out of the 10 decent chances that Rangers concede are from Katic’s area of responsibility. This isn’t to say that he is directly at fault or wholly to blame, but it does raise concerns about his ability to man-mark and track runners. To put this in perspective, here are Goldson’s numbers for the same statistic:

This shows how important Goldson is to Rangers’ defensive integrity – he doesn’t allow a lot of chances in the area that he is primarily responsible for defending. There are mitigating circumstances such as Katic having to play with three different left-backs, but the contrast is pretty damning.

In possession, meanwhile, Goldson takes greater responsibility as the centre-half required to play the ball out from the back. The biggest reason for this is that he is playing on his stronger side, whereas Katic has to cut back onto his right foot and will therefore frequently look for the easier pass.

That isn’t all Katic’s fault, but Goldson has averaged more forward passes per game – 26.91 versus 19 – and passes into the final third per game – 8.97 versus 5.4 – than the Croatian, highlighting what he offers Rangers on the ball even though both players have relatively similar passing accuracy rates – 88.6% versus 89.8%. Those statistics are based on Scottish Premiership form only, courtesy of Wyscout.

There’s also a misconception that Katic is better in offensive situations and causes more problems at set pieces – in reality, Goldson has 3 goals and 1 assist in 15 games this season compared to Katic’s numbers of 1 goal in 10. Goldson does seem to miss more headers but the fact that he is competing for them suggests his movement is better in the first place – the old adage of being in the right position at the right time.

Aged 22, Katic still clearly has a promising future ahead of him and over the course of the season, which sees Rangers participate in four different competitions, he will no doubt have an important role to play. But Gerrard is right to sacrifice him instead of Goldson to bring Helander into the side.

It’s early days but having clocked up the miles in Serie A – where he made 84 outings – and made himself a regular amongst the Sweden national team with 10 caps since 2017, the summer signing looks like he can bring a lot to the Rangers backline.

Article title: Rangers: Why Connor Goldson deserves his place over Nikola Katic

Please leave feedback to help us improve the site: