Rangers boss Steven Gerrard says Steve Clarke ‘lacks class’

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has accused his Kilmarnock counterpart Steve Clarke of “lacking class” by suggesting Jermain Defoe should be cited for diving to earn a penalty against St Mirren.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS

Gerrard reacted with barely concealed scorn to Clarke’s comments in the aftermath of another contentious weekend of refereeing decisions which saw Rangers awarded four spot-kicks in their win over Saints at Ibrox.

Clarke referenced the incident earlier in the season when his winger Jordan Jones received a retrospective two-match ban from the Scottish FA for simulation after going down under a Cammy Kerr challenge for a penalty which proved decisive in a 2-1 win for Kilmarnock at Dundee.

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Clarke, who has been a consistent critic of the Scottish FA’s disciplinary process, indicated a similar punishment may be appropriate for Defoe who appeared to tumble easily when challenged by Paul McGinn on Saturday for one of the four penalties awarded by referee Andrew Dallas.

Any ban for Defoe could have ruled him out of this weekend’s Scottish Cup fifth round tie between Kilmarnock and Rangers at Rugby Park, a factor Gerrard believes was “100 per cent” behind Clarke’s comments.

Gerrard, who worked under Clarke when the latter was assistant-manager at Liverpool, also observed that the Killie boss was the only absentee from last month’s Scottish FA-hosted summit of Premiership managers and match officials in Perth to discuss the current level of discontent over refereeing standards.

“I’m surprised by Steve’s comments and disappointed by them as well,” said Gerrard. “It lacks class when you try and get an opposition player banned for two games when you’re about to play them in two games’ time.

“We played Kilmarnock there on the astroturf two weeks ago and there was a clear red card on Ryan Jack right in front of us and I purposely didn’t mention it in the media out of respect for Steve Clarke and Kilmarnock and also out of respect for the player [Eamonn Brophy] who was involved in the tackle. So I’m very disappointed that he’s trying to get one of my players banned.

“That’s not the Steve Clarke I know. He is always a man who carries himself with class. So I’m disappointed by his comments. I have no plans to speak to him, but I’ll obviously be speaking to him when we play at the weekend.

“The two situations [Jones and Defoe] are completely different in my opinion. I don’t think Jermain Defoe’s was a penalty. I can understand the comments about that from the pundits too. Pundits are paid to give comments. I have been there. You have got to give comments and it’s your opinion. I respect that. But for an opposition manager to comment on a game that has got nothing to do with him, to try and get one of my players banned, is where the frustration comes in for me. That’s 100 per cent what it’s got to do with it.

“I think the referee got three out of the four decisions right on Saturday. But that particular incident? I don’t think it was a penalty. But none of my players tried to appeal for a penalty. Jermain tried to jump straight back up. We didn’t give the decision, the referee gave the decision. If Steve Clarke has got a problem, he should be speaking about the official and not trying to get one of my players banned.

“We had a meeting a couple of weeks ago in Perth and Steve Clarke was the only top flight manager who wasn’t there in the meeting. We all had an agreement around the table that we would try and show officials more respect and not try and get caught up talking about them in the media.

“We have to respect their livelihoods and their families and them being able to go to supermarkets and get on with their lives after they have maybe made a mistake in certain games. I am buying into that. I want to show the officials more respect and understand that they are human and that they make mistakes.

“We as managers and coaches make mistakes every game, the players do the same. So it’s no surprise that referees do from time to time. We all bought in to that around the table.

“But Steve Clarke wasn’t at the meeting. So maybe that’s the reason why he’s trying to put more pressure on Andrew Dallas.”

Defoe will not face any retrospective action over his tumble against St Mirren on Saturday. The 3pm Tuesday deadline for fast-track notices of complaint passed without any being issued by the SFA’s compliance officer, Clare Whyte.