Lies, damn lies and Rangers’ statistics

The Rangers club crest
Not as good as the papers make out

I just happened cross the back page of the local rag on the way in tonight and there’s an utterly pointless headline regarding Glasgow Rangers‘ match tonight. Basically, they’re defending the best defensive record in British league football.

They’ve conceded fewer goals in league play than even the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester United. If I recall correctly, 14 in 26 games. Apparently this is a huge thing to crow about.

However, saying this means they have the best defence in British football is like saying that Switzerland have Europe’s best navy as they’ve never been invaded by ocean-borne attackers. It’s simply not just a matter of numbers.

You can’t publish a statistic like that without taking into account what Rangers are up against on a footballing basis. Drop them into the EPL and does anyone really think their defence would still only have leaked 14 goals? A quick check as of 20:46 this evening and the goals scored in the EPL are as follows:

  • Chelsea – 60
  • Manchester United – 61
  • Arsenal – 60
  • Liverpool – 43
  • Manchester City – 47

And so on.

Compare this to the SPL:

Tails off a lot faster, doesn’t it? It’s not wholly to do with Rangers’ defence being good. It’s also the fact that SPL teams aren’t as free-scoring as their EPL equivalents. Drop below half way and SPL teams are barely managing 20 goals – and that’s against other teams of their calibre, not just Rangers and Celtic.

As a little aside that made me smile, at the time of publishing this Rangers were losing 1-0 at Motherwell.

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Jamie Maxwell

Hi Iain,

I stumbled across your article whilst on the lookout for some stats regarding Rangers and Celtic this season.

While I agree that all stats of this kind are subjective to the teams playing each other, I have to point out Rangers’ record is extremely good. This is a team that has not bought a player in 18 months due to dire financial restraints – we couldn’t even afford a loan deal in January due to wage costs!

We have had to sell our better players like Cuellar & Alan Hutton in recent years and try to replace them with players a lot less their value. On the other hand, Celtic have had the luxury to spend £3.8m on a striker and brought in no less than 8 players in January where we had to let Pedro Mendes (£1.3m) and Jerome Rothen(cut short loan) leave. I think with this in mind, Rangers’ record this season is particularly good. Not only have we conceded the least number of goals, we have scored more than celtic too – not bad for a club who are often described by Celtic fans as ‘defensive’ !

All in all, I think given our current circumstances that this ‘record’ is pretty good going.

Best Regards,


Jamie Maxwell

Haha, I think you’re more likely to find that kind of response from the East End of Glasgow!

I know where you are coming from and agree that you can’t say one defence is better than another based on two seperate leagues – it’s impossible to fully justify it. Although, the reports I read said that Rangers had “Britain’s best defensive record” rather than the best defence… & yes, I know I’m being a pedant!

We have a 39 year old Davie Weir at CB and Madjid Bougherra, who have been nothing short of superb for us. When Bougherra was away in the African Nations Cup, we brought in the 19 year old Danny Wilson who held his own both domestically and in the champions league.

I also forgot to mention that while Rangers are £30m in debt and being run by Lloyds TSB; Manager Walter Smith, Assistant Manager Ally McCoist and First Team Coach Kenny McDowall have been working without a contract since January. I think that makes our current situation of being 10 points clear at the top of the SPL & our defensive record even better.

I think we can both see each other’s points here. At the end of the day, the only record we are bothered about is who is atop the League table come the 8th of May.

PS – How is Peter Lovenkrands getting on down there?