Rangers manager Steven Gerrard will make no attempt to curb Alfredo Morelos’ combative attitude tonight as the striker walks yet another suspension tightrope.
A booking for Morelos against Villarreal at Ibrox in Rangers’ penultimate Europa League Group G game would rule him out of the potentially decisive finale against Rapid Vienna in Austria on 13 December.
The 22-year-old’s indiscipline has already proved costly for Rangers this season when their top scorer was suspended for the League Cup semi-final defeat against Aberdeen. He picked up his 11th booking of the season against Livingston last Saturday, triggering another one-match ban which will see him miss the Premiership game at Dundee on 9 December.
But Gerrard, who has compared the Colombian international’s temperament to that of his former Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez, insists it would reduce the player’s effectiveness for Rangers if he instructed him to rein in his approach.
“There is an element where you just have to let Alfredo be,” said Gerrard.
“He plays on the edge, he will make it uncomfortable for the Villareal centre backs. We speak to him, we speak to the whole group, and we talk to them about discipline in every single game. They know, they understand.
“But at the same time we can’t ask Alfredo not to be aggressive in the way he plays because that is when he is at his best and the reason why he is already just two goals off last year’s tally of 18.
“He does actually remind me of Suarez. A lot. We can certainly help in terms of his disciplinary record. He knows that. But I love this type of player, I like players that play on the edge and sometimes get it wrong because these players are the ones that make the difference, they have got the ‘X’ factor.
“If you are a player and you don’t really play on the edge, then you don’t really make special things happen on a football pitch. I loved playing with Suarez, he was my favourite player to play with. And I think I have already expressed how much I love having Alfredo in my team as a manager.”
Gerrard recently stated he was prepared to “fall out” with his board in order to stave off any threat of Morelos moving on as interest in him grows in other clubs. He revealed he was assured by chairman Dave King this week that no player will be sold without his approval.
“I had dinner with Dave on Monday evening before the agm on Tuesday,” said Gerrard. “It was his turn to pay! It was positive, it was good. We spoke about what we are trying to do in the next couple of transfer windows and what the future looks like.
“The chairman has never said to me that we have to generate money by selling players. He has said that myself and [director of football] Mark Allen make all the decisions in terms of football.
“So the chairman knows where I stand on Alfredo and all the other players. That statement still stands and will stand for a long time.”