Rangers captain Tavernier hails clean sheet record and shares excitement for season aheadby Andy Devlin
RANGERS smashed a 114-year old record — as James Tavernier scored on his 250th appearance for the league leaders.
Skipper Tav hasn’t had many better days at the office since he arrived at Ibrox.
Branded a “serial loser” by Chris Sutton last year, the full-back seems determined to ram those taunts back down the throat of the Celtic legend.
Tavernier, 28, is playing the best football of his career, and focused on ending his and Gers long wait for silverware.
He said: “I’m really excited about what this season might bring.
“It’s credit to the whole team, as well as the management, for the way I’m playing. I’m still growing and still learning. The coaches and the staff give me every backing I need to fulfil my potential, and be the best I can possibly be.
“I’ve got help from all the boys in the team to do that.
“With the squad we have, we’ve got a really good group of players.”
Against struggling United, Gers set a new all-time Scottish top flight record of seven successive clean sheets from the start of a league season.
Remarkably, they have faced only eight shots on target in all of those seven matches, all of which were saved by keeper Jon McLaughlin.
Tav added: “It is difficult to put into words what it means to set that clean sheet record.
“But it’s credit to the entire squad who have been asked to come in and play. That goes from the front guys all the way back to the keeper, all of us knowing our roles and what we have to do.
“We want that to continue, we want clean sheets because it gives us the foundation for our attacking players, who can go forward, create chances and score goals.
“We now want this momentum to carry on, and we go to Gibraltar on Thursday looking for another clean sheet.
“Keeping these clean sheets is about attitude. That’s what we want.
“We were happy with the number of times we didn’t concede last season, but we still wanted more.
“We wanted to beat our record from last season, and we’ve started really well.
“But that attitude comes right from the front, not just the defenders and the keeper. Collectively, we’ve been terrific in our defending in the games so far.”
For a player that has come in for some stinging criticism, Tavernier’s stats are impressive.
In 250 games for Gers the full-back now boasts 48 goals and 77 assists.
He’s averaging a goal every five matches, a tally that puts some strikers to shame.
Tav said: “I was delighted to get on the scoresheet again.
“But first and foremost, I’m delighted for the team, the club and all the players for achieving another clean sheet.
“To break that record was one of the main things we wanted to do.
“There were a couple of moments when Dundee United had chances.
“But they didn’t go in the back of the net, and we’re just so delighted to get that record.”
Ryan Kent continued his impressive start to the season, and fired Gers ahead with a sublime finish, before Tavernier made it 2-0 before half-time.
Kemar Roofe and Scott Arfield got in on the act after the break, with Kent passing up two really good chances to add to his tally.
But Tav insisted: “Ryan Kent’s been terrific for us with his goal contributions this season, and has just won Player of the Month because he’s been great.
“He’s coming up with the goals now, and that’s the one area where we wanted him to get better.
“He gets in those attacking positions and we want him to be on the scoresheet, as well as provide the assists.
“Kent’s doing that now and he’s been a real asset for us. I thought he maybe could have got a hat-trick against United, but I’m delighted with how he’s playing and progressing.”
The win that keeps Gers top came at a cost for boss Steven Gerrard with Leon Balogun, Ryan Jack, Brandon Barker and Alfredo Morelos all crocked.