‘KEEPING the zero’ has become an early hallmark of the new management team at Rangers.

After inheriting a squad brimming with quality but struggling to perform consistently, Giovanni van Bronckhorst has focused on working from that base of solidity and is yet to fall behind during seven games in charge.

Calvin Bassey has performed admirably in a position many supporters doubted he could play only weeks ago. James Tavernier and Borna Barisic both appear to be benefitting from greater protection in front of them.

As was the case in the invincible title-winning campaign of 2020/21 however, Connor Goldson has been the cornerstone of the side.

The comments he made after more cup misery at Hampden last month now resigned to history.

The Rangers vice-captain was widely ridiculed by elements of the support for claiming the team had lost some hunger, although in hindsight perhaps some appreciated his honest appraisal and palpable anger.

His on-ball responsibility has only been increased by Van Bronckhorst. The diagonals launched cross-pitch, which led to either goal at Tynecastle and were particularly evident in a 1-1 draw with Lyon, were often seen under Steven Gerrard. However, the defender’s distribution has benefitted from a greater width in high areas.

The opening goal against Hearts saw him pick Ryan Kent out on the touchline, there remained a novelty when he found Joe Aribo centrally soon after because of varied options.

His ball progression and passes into midfield have notably been relied upon more heavily. With Rangers playing only one deep midfielder.

Before kick-off last night, Goldson had averaged 59.04 passes per 90 in the Premiership. Last night he played 99.

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Glen Kamara was stationed as the sole No.6, meaning there was room on either side for Goldson and Barisic to occupy spaces a second defensive midfielder would otherwise have done so. Notice he is in line with Kamara here as a ball is threaded through midfield.

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As detailed by The Rangers Review at length last week, Barisic has inverted in possession to isolate Ryan Kent or Fashion Sakala out wide. While, like Goldson, taking up positions besides Kamara to aid ball progression and protect central spaces.

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As he picks up the ball inside his own half during the opening 45 minutes on Wednesday, Goldson ventures forward before slotting the ball into Aribo from this area.

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Being comfortable on the ball, the defender is not reliant on a midfielder taking the ball from him to fulfil this role. This means that Aribo and Scott Arfield are able to remain high.

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At points in midweek the entire Rangers team, Bassey aside, sat this high as they attempted to find a way through their opponents.

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Within that first-half period, Goldson made 13 passes into the final third (15 throughout the 90). For context, his passes into the final third season average in the Premiership stands at 9.37 per 90.

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Against Livingston in a 3-1 win, he also made 15 passes into the final third. Against Dundee, 14. Both games featured Kamara as the No.6 with room again on either side for defenders to step forward and maximise the space on offer.

The more weapons Rangers have to break down the block the better. Last night, and against Dundee and Livingston, Goldson's ability to step forward and break line facilitated the likes of Aribo and Arfield to stay high and run beyond.

As with so many of his teammates, his adapted role and refreshed instructions appears to be bringing out his best form.