Steven Gerrard has hit out his Rangers predecessors for their handling of Ross McCrorie, branding them “careless”.
In an interview with BT Sport ahead of his competitive debut as Rangers boss, a 2-0 win over Shkupi in the Europa League, Gerrard did not temper his words, aimed at previous bosses Pedro Caixinha and Graeme Murty, saying the player could have been “destroyed” last season by being played at centre-back.
McCrorie made his debut for the Ibrox side in a Betfred Cup tie against Partick Thistle under Caixinha. Four days later he was pitched into an Old Firm game for his first start. The 20-year-old continued to be used as a centre-back by Murty, albeit he was also moved into midfield.
Gerrard explained that was part of the reasoning for strengthening the centre-back position.
“There is a budget, but in terms of the support and the backing I’ve had from the board has been exceptional and we’re very thankful and appreciative of that,” he said. “We’ve tried to spend it sensibly and in the right areas.
“You look at the centre-back position when we came in. We lost one of our main players on a free to Germany.
“We had player playing at centre-back position that wasn’t his real position who was 19 years of age who had been thrown in the deep end who could have been easily destroyed in terms of career-wise. So we felt that decision was careless.”
Against the Macedonians in the first round qualifier, McCrorie was fielded in a defensive midfield role with new arrivals Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic in the centre of defence.
Jamie Murphy and James Tavernier netted the goals.
Gerrard said: “When we walked in we felt that the squad was way off where it needed to be. I wanted the team to get bigger, I wanted the team to get stronger more physical, fitter.
“We don’t want players who have been round the block and maybe lost that bit of hunger and are just happy to be a Rangers player and pick up wages.”