Steven Gerrard admits title challenge is over as Rangers target Scottish Cup glory

Steven Gerrard has conceded that the Scottish Cup is now the last realistic chance for a trophy in his first season as Rangers manager.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard supervises training. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard supervises training. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

As he prepared his team for a fifth round replay in the competition at home to Kilmarnock, the 39-year-old didn’t fudge his response when that suggestion was put to him.

“You’re probably right in saying that,” said Gerrard, whose side drew 0-0 with St Johnstone at home on Saturday to fall eight points behind Celtic with only 12 Premiership games left.

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He added: “The Scottish Cup has been a competition, even from the beginning of the season, that we’ve looked at.

“We’ve wanted to do well in the cup competitions and, in the last one, we got to the semi finals. We were very disappointed with the outcome [a 1-0 Betfred Cup defeat by Aberdeen].

With the Dons awaiting the winners of tonight’s tie in the quarter-finals, Gerrard said: “This is an opportunity for us to put in a performance that’s good enough to set up a tie to go to Pittodrie.”

Failure to catch Celtic in the league and not winning the Scottish Cup would mean an eighth consecutive season without a major trophy for the first time since Rangers moved to Ibrox in 1899. 
Gerrard accepts that would create a widespread perception of having come up short.

“I can’t control people’s opinions at the end of the season and what people say,” he said. “All I can control is my players and what we are trying to do and keep trying to take it forward to give us a better chance of success.

“As a Rangers player or manager or member of staff, you get judged on silverware. The expectation is huge here. The fans want success yesterday. We do as players and staff but it’s not easy.

“You have to keep trying to learn and improve and work and fight and have that hunger that will get you it as quickly as possible.

“That’s the reason why at times I have to be truthful and honest with the players. Or brutal as you call it. Otherwise I wouldn’t be doing my job.”

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Gerrard also gave his backing to Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson after his criticism of the SFA’s disciplinary procedures.

Robertson claimed on RangerTV that the Ibrox club were treated differently by the BBC over incidents in games which could result in action by SFA compliance officer Clare Whyte.

Claiming it was linked to a dispute with the broadcaster over a club ban on one of its journalists, Robertson claimed games were being “re-refereed” with retrospective action taken on an “inconsistent basis”.

Gerrard said: “Stewart’s come out and done a statement on behalf of the board. It’s obviously something the board feel very strongly about and this is something that must have been going on a long time before I walked in the door. But on my evidence over the past six or seven months I certainly support the statement.

“Hopefully there is an outcome from the statement, and we all move forward. But it is certainly something I support.

“I think all the managers in the league have been really strong in trying to find a level of consistency and trying to help the game, and the referees, and the officials.

“We do feel at time that Rangers have been over-analysed at certain times and there have been more eyes on us. We are live more than most of the teams. So yeah, I definitely support Stewart in his views there. So I think all we are trying to do is help Clare and help the SFA for it to be a better spectacle for the supporters.”