‘Second place not enough’ says Steven Gerrard as he promises ‘more competitive’ Rangers next season

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard insists he will never settle for second best after the Ibrox club guaranteed their first top two finish in the top flight for seven years.

Two James Tavernier penalties secured a 2-0 win over Aberdeen to ensure the Pittodrie club can no longer overhaul Rangers for runners-up spot in the Premiership this season.

The victory leaves Gerrard’s team nine points behind leaders Celtic with three games of the campaign remaining, leaving the champions still needing another point to clinch their eighth successive title.

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While Rangers have now gathered their highest seasonal points tally since returning to the top flight in 2016, Gerrard knows he remains some way short of the standards required to be considered a success in his first managerial role.

“Second place is not enough,” said Gerrard. “It is progress and I know the club is moving forward in certain areas. We are improving and looking stronger but there is still a lot of work and improvement to do.

“We need more quality to help the 11 on the pitch and we need to continue to improve our discipline and our injury record. If we make those three things happen, I’m confident we can be more competitive next season.”

Celtic can wrap up another title win against Aberdeen at Pittodrie next Saturday but Gerrard is keen to ensure his team maintain a strong end to their campaign which currently sees them on a run of four straight victories.

“We’re just focusing on what we’re doing here,” he added. “The last four performances have been very strong and consistent but we want to take that into the Hibs game next Sunday. We want the same level of performance and to finish the season as strong as we can and lay a marker down for where we want to start next season.

“But there are a few people in and around my squad who think the season’s done and they’ve come off the gas. It’s my job to make sure that doesn’t happen, or if those people want to do that, they won’t be anywhere near my team and the team I want to take forward.”

There was a late run-out against Aberdeen for former club captain Lee Wallace, who is expected to move on this summer, but Gerrard stressed the full-back was not simply sent on to receive the acclaim of the Rangers fans.

“Lee deserved his spot in the 18 today,” said Gerrard. “He’s had one of his strongest weeks in training. He got 45 minutes against Liverpool under-23s in the week and was outstanding. He was in on merit, it’s important people don’t think it was anything to do with sentiment.”