Rangers: No pitching problems for Steven Gerrard in Vienna

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard insists he has no complaints in spite of Rapid Vienna barring his Rangers side from training on their rutted Allianz Stadion pitch.

The Austrian outfit have been forced to relay one of the goalmouths at their 24,000-capacity home ground after it began to cut up.

But there are a number of other bare patches, and Rapid chiefs have told the Light Blues they will have to do their final preparations for tonight’s Europa League last-32 decider on a practice field outside the ground.

It is far from the ideal scenario as Gerrard goes in search of the win that will see his team go through Group G to the knockout rounds.

But the Ibrox boss said: “I think we have to adapt. I don’t see it as a big problem. It doesn’t change our focus on tomorrow night. I think it’s a sensible decision because having looked at the pitch it does look quite wet.

“For both teams it’s sensible to keep it in the best shape it can be in for tomorrow’s game because it’s going to be a huge match.

“We’ll have to see how the pitch plays tomorrow night. It’s difficult to judge. On the eye, it looks really good, but to feel it’s very wet.

“We’ll have to see how it plays but it’s the same for both teams. We don’t like to use excuses, and we will focus on our game-plan and what we have to do to win the match. The pitch won’t change. It is what it is and we have to go out there and give it our best shot.”

While Rangers must take all three points if they are to extend their European campaign beyond Christmas for the first time since 2011, the hosts only need a draw.

The Austrians have had a poor domestic campaign and currently languish in eighth place, 25 points adrift of Bundesliga leaders Red Bull Salzburg.

But the Ibrox men have their own frustrations after blowing the chance to go top of the Ladbrokes Premiership by dropping five points against Aberdeen and Dundee in the last week.

Asked if he expected a reaction, he said: “I expected a reaction at Dundee! The last two performances, I don’t think we’ve shown the true Rangers, nor the standards we’ve set since the start of the season.

“This is a different game, a different style. We believe Rapid will come out and attack us and we’re expecting a positive performance with a vocal fan base behind them.

“We don’t expect them to sit deep and contain and look to spoil like (we’ve faced) in the last two matches. This game will suit us.

“It’s more of a 50-50 match. We have major respect for the opposition. Like ourselves, Rapid were the underdogs to progress and it’s a fantastic game for both teams.”

Rapid Vienna boss Dietmar Kuhbauer, meanwhile, insists the pressure is all on Rangers as the last-32 race goes to the wire.

Kuhbauer said: “We are aware of the fact that Rangers have a great team. They don’t play the old style from the past, they don’t play kick and rush. They like to play football and can play many styles.

“But we know we also have great players and that we can score goals. And I think Rangers are more under pressure because they have to win the match.

“We might be in a better position than Rangers with us being ahead in the group right now, but it’s too dangerous to play for just one point.

“We know we can score goals and defend well against Rangers, and if we do that, we can qualify for the next round.

“I don’t need to motivate the lads - they know they can achieve something very special.”