WHEN Steven Gerrard entered the Media Room at Ibrox on Wednesday night, he had the look of a man that meant business.
The jacket and club tie were off and the expression and words said it all about how angry and upset he was with his players after a lamentable performance and surprise defeat to Aberdeen.
His assessment of the game and the key moments – Scott McKenna’s goal, the red card to Alfredo Morelos and the chances his side spurned – were honest and straight to the point, as always.
Supporters would have had no complaints if Gerrard had given his players a verbal rollicking inside the home dressing room. Indeed, many would have demanded it.
Rangers fell well below the standards that their manager has set this season as their unbeaten record on home soil and top spot in the Premiership were lost in one go.
It was a result that clearly frustrated Gerrard. It isn’t one that will be allowed to derail Rangers or undo their good work this term, though.
“He’s an emotional guy,” assistant manager Gary McAllister said of his former team-mate that is now his boss. “You saw the way we played.
“But times are changing. Young people are changing.
“He’s closer to the changing room in his age group than me. Those days actually don’t exist a great deal now, tea-cups and volleys and that stuff.
“It’s about taking stock and being realistic. We have had loads of plaudits, we’ve had some great nights, especially at Ibrox.
“This was a disappointing one. It’s about not getting too high and not getting too low.
“We don’t think there has been a cause for [losing the rag] at this moment in time.
“Because I think the line of communication between the players and the dressing room is good. We’d rather talk it through.
“We talk in compartments. We talk in groups. There is seniority and there are younger player and position-specific. There are loads of talks continually.”
Gerrard addressed his players on Tuesday morning to warn them about the consequences of their disciplinary problem after Scott Arfield collected Rangers’ seventh red card of the campaign against Hearts last weekend.
But the message didn’t have the desired impact as Alfredo Morelos picked up number eight with a moment of madness as he threw his arm into the face of Dons captain Graeme Shinnie.
Rangers had toiled to break down Aberdeen even after their visitors had been reduced to ten men when Sam Cosgrove was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
The loss of Morelos didn’t cost Rangers the game but it certainly didn’t help their chances of salvaging something from an evening that could, and should, have been far more positive for Gerrard, his players and his staff.
“Yeah, we’ve been chatting quite a lot over the last couple of days,” McAllister said. “We can’t hide from the fact it was a disappointing result.
“Having said that, the level of performance was a big dip as well. I don’t think we anticipated that. Right throughout the team we never really got anything going on the night, right from early in the game.
“There was no rhythm. There wasn’t many combination or phases of play when we maybe got five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten passes.
“It was very much stop-start, throw-ins and set-plays. We were uncomfortable the whole time.
“Even when numerically we had the extra man we still never got any rhythm to it at all. So performance-wise we were disappointed. The result was obviously massively disappointing, but it was the performance level as well.
“I think we have to applaud the opponent at times as well. They came to do a job and around the park they probably won more individual battles than we thought they would.
“They defended their goal well and they’ve done that a few times against us. We had a rough idea of how they were going to play and they went about their job well.
“We have to take into account that they came to Ibrox and did a good job.”
Just three days after moving top of the table with that battling win at Tynecastle, Rangers found themselves second as Kilmarnock continued their remarkable rise all the way to the summit.
Now Rangers will drop another place if Celtic, as expected, take something from their meeting with Steve Clarke’s side at Parkhead this afternoon.
Questions were raised over the Light Blues’ character as they let pole position in the title race slip through their fingers, but McAllister hopes actions speak louder than words as his side prepare to face Dundee tomorrow.
McAllister said: “My reply to that would be that knowing the group of players we have worked with since June, from early in the season, some of the monumental games we’ve played in up until now, and being backs to the wall in some of them across European ties as well, we think we have good men.
“Good people. Good senior pros. And there’s a nice mix of players as well. We have young, inexperienced players who listen.
“So this is a disappointing moment but I think we’ve got enough about us in that changing room to put it right on Sunday.
“It always is [a chance to prove yourself]. It’s one of those nights where if it had been Thursday-Sunday like we have been used to, that’s a shorter period, but the fact it’s been another day makes it a wee bit more difficult.
“But speaking as an ex player the best way to get rid of a bad night is to get to the next game as quickly as possible and put it right.”
Source : HeraldScotland