Steven Gerrard has warned his Rangers players they will have ‘big problems’ this season if they do not find greater mental strength in their bid to win the Premiership title.
The Rangers manager was left frustrated as a 1-1 draw with Hearts at Tynecastle saw them fail to reclaim top spot in the league table.
Gerrard’s side are now level on points with champions Celtic who lead the way by virtue of having scored one more goal than their challengers.
Alfredo Morelos secured a point for Rangers when he cancelled out Ryotaro Meshino’s early opener for Hearts and it was the tame start to the match which caused Gerrard greatest concern.
“It’s about mentality,” said Gerrard. “It’s that realisation of the opportunity you’ve got to win a football match.
“With all respect to Hearts, we should be fired up more than that, we should be ready to compete, we should be coming out of the blocks more focused than that.
“That’s the disappointing thing about today. To be successful, we have to come to places like this and, if we’re not there from an attacking sense, still win these games 1-0 by competing and grinding, winning ugly. But if you start games like we did today, you are going to have big problems.
“I don’t think we performed well enough to win the game, that’s for sure. I certainly see it as two points dropped right now.
“We didn’t start the game well enough. I thought we were poor in the early exchanges and were lucky not to be 2-0 down.
“Hearts had a fantastic header which hit the bar but we need to be doing better to stop the cross, we need to be heading those situations away.
“Then we did go a goal behind and Hearts deserved it, although it was an individual error again which cost us.
“I was really disappointed with the way we started. We reacted quite well and did well to get back in the game.
“When we got to half-time, we tried to reset it because we never competed well enough in the first 15 or so minutes.
“But overall, even going forward today, we just weren’t at it. We never created enough, we never tested their ‘keeper enough. So it’s a frustrating day.
“I said before the game that you need to come to a place like this with the right focus and mentality, to fight and compete, to earn the right.
“Hearts are not going to give it to you, especially where they are in the table. Craig Levein was always going to have them fired up to try and make it a physical encounter.
“His players were terrific for him today. They maxed out and gave him everything they’ve got.
“We didn’t start competing until we were a goal down and at that stage, we could have been two down.”