Steven Gerrard highlights need for Rangers to ‘spend big money’
The five defeats Steven Gerrard has suffered in his last seven European games as Rangers manager are as many as he experienced in the first 32 of his tenure.
If those bald statistics point to regression for the Ibrox club on the continental stage, Gerrard believes a degree of understanding needs to be applied to the circumstances he finds himself in as he tries to move the Scottish champions forward.
Inconsistencies in team selection have clearly been an issue this season with a combination of injuries and Covid-related absences denying Gerrard the opportunity to establish anything close to a settled line-up.
But it is also the financial muscle, or lack of it, which Rangers can currently employ in carrying out their player recruitment which the former Liverpool and England captain insists lies behind them starting their latest Europa League group stage campaign with back to back losses at home to Lyon and away to Sparta Prague.
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“We have been short in the two Europa League games, but at this level, which is improving year in year out, if we want to keep growing and going to the extra level, we need in transfer windows to spend big money,” says Gerrard. “It is as simple as that.
“To compete with the teams that we are playing against, we have to spend big money. In the last two windows, we haven’t spent a penny. So there has to be some realism there as well.
“To compete with these teams, and to beat these teams on their own patch, when transfer windows are open we have to spend money to compete at this level. Not to win, just to compete.”
Gerrard is nonetheless confident his team will recover their optimum form which has been seen only in glimpses since the start of the season and which may be required on Sunday when they face Hibs at Ibrox in a top-of-the-table Premiership clash.
“You are well within your rights to read into anything that we are doing here tactically or my decisions,” he said. “We as a staff and me as a manager are trying to find the perfect solution, trying to find a settled team that will play with that spark and that life that we have been missing, if you like.
“But what I would say is that we are not concerned or worried here. We know where we are.
“There has to be some common sense as well when you are judging us from the outside. The spark and this life that you guys are talking about, it will come. Trust me. We have got really good players here and we will keep improving and working hard and that spark will come.
“It will certainly come quicker if we can find this settled team and if we can keep our main players fit and available and if players that are fit and available get themselves in better form.”
The lack of cohesion in Rangers’ play has been most evident from an attacking perspective where a variety of front three combinations have been fielded without providing a significant return.
“Maybe expect sequence number 16 (on Sunday),” was Gerrard’s response to a question on that issue. “That is the way it is. We have got Ryan Kent missing. Last night (against Sparta), we needed to run hard and run fast and that is the reason we used Fashion Sakala. I thought he was really good in terms of what he gave to the game.
“He was a threat, he was non-stop running, we saw his shirt number on every occasion and that is what we asked of Fashion. We will have to see how he pulls through before we make a decision (for Sunday).
“But, in general, I am looking to try and find a settled team, a team where we can find more cohesion, more rhythm and get the boys in a place where we can find consistency a lot more.
“But it has been challenging. I think it is only Steven Davis I have had available for every single game over the course of the 15 games this season. This is the way it is, we need to accept this and adapt and change and we have to be ready. It has been virtually impossible to find the same starting 11 from game to game.”
Defence has also been a source of frustration and the absence of Connor Goldson was keenly felt as Rangers surrendered too many openings against Sparta. Goldson seems unlikely to return against Hibs, although he will be given every chance to do so along with midfielder Juninho Bacuna.
“We’ll leave Connor today and hopefully see if he can get through training tomorrow,” said Gerrard. “We are going to give it an extra 24 hours.
“At the moment, he still has an outside chance but he’s still a doubt. But I’m hoping in my position that he’s going to be available for us.
“Junior was assessed last night and we are hoping we’ve got the injury before it’s become a big problem.
“He’s had some tightness in that quad area but there’s a difference between tightness and an actual injury. He’ll have some work in the next 24 and 48 hours and again, like Connor, he’s probably got a really small chance of being involved.
“Outside of that, we’ve got a few kicks and bruises but nothing that will keep anyone out at the weekend.”
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