Rangers manager Steven Gerrard says he would rather rip the club badge off his chest and walk away than give up the pursuit of Celtic in the title race.
Gerrard admitted the pressure on him has been ramped up this week as Rangers fell 10 points behind their great rivals, who are seeking a record-equalling ninth top-flight title in a row. A 2-1 defeat at Kilmarnock on Wednesday, while Celtic were beating Hearts 5-0 has seen Gerrard questioned as never before in his 21-month tenure.
His side have now dropped eight points in five Premiership games – more than they did in their first 20 league matches.
Gerrard, who cannot afford any slip-up from his side at home to Livingston this afternoon, said: “Am I aware that I have had a lot of pressure, heat and scrutiny on me this week? A million per cent. Do I accept it? I accept the constructive side of it. Do I listen to phone-ins and emotional people around a keyboard? I think you know that by now.
As for conceding the title was out of reach, Gerrard retorted: “If I concede something while this badge is on my chest, I will take it off and I will walk out and get in my car. It is as simple as that.”
The 39 year old refused to patronise the club’s support when asked if it was vital they retained belief that a now, unlikely, turnaround at the top of the Premiership could be effected in the remaining three months of the season.
“Listen, I don’t want to tell the fans they have to do anything,” he said. “The fans need to keep being the fans because they are an extremely top set of supporters. They always have been and they always will be.
“My job is to make sure this team gets them back smiling and happy again. We did that for six months, but in this game you don’t get rewards for that – unless you win a League Cup, which we were extremely close to doing.
“We made them happy by bringing back European football after Christmas, but our form in the league has let them down. There is no way to dress that up. It’s the reality.
“Our performances haven’t been where they were and we have lost a bit of rhythm. The message to the fans is: I’m on it and I’m going to do everything I can to make them smile and be happy again.”