Rangers boss Steven Gerrard on how Alfredo Morelos has evolved into 'a better player and a better human being'

It was a moment which might have had some managers tearing their hair out in exasperation.

In-form striker Alfredo Morelos has been urged to go flat out for the rest of the season by Rangers manager Steven Gerrard. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
In-form striker Alfredo Morelos has been urged to go flat out for the rest of the season by Rangers manager Steven Gerrard. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

But when Alfredo Morelos voluntarily stopped in his tracks in response to an injury sustained by Royal Antwerp defender Jeremy Gelin at Ibrox last week, passing up a dangerous attacking opportunity for Rangers, the only emotion Steven Gerrard experienced was pride.

The show of sportsmanship from Morelos earned widespread praise for a player whose career at Rangers has been punctuated by disciplinary issues.

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Gerrard has kept the faith with the Colombian international striker throughout those turbulent times and feels he is now being rewarded with evidence of the 24-year-old’s positive development both as a player and a person.

Steven Gerrard is hopeful March will prove to be 'really special month' for Rangers as they look to wrap up the Premiership title and book a place in the Europa League quarter-finals. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Living on the edge

“It showed a real sign of maturity,” reflected Gerrard. “As someone who observes Alfredo closer than anyone, I still don’t think he’s perfect because he’s had a couple of setbacks in terms of the suspensions this season.

“But if you judge the all-round person and how he goes about his routine, I see real signs of maturity and a player who is trying extra-hard to evolve, become a better person, become a better player and really work on his game.

“I have to give him credit for that because I’ve been really strong with him in the one v one conversations we have had. I have put a lot of time and effort into this kid.

Steven Gerrard says Rangers winger Ryan Kent is 'back in the groove' after three goals in his last three games. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

“But it made me proud seeing that there are signs of maturity in there. I think his family life has really helped that. People around Alfredo have played a major role in trying to help him grow and mature. That was a big sign of that being the case the other day with what happened in the Antwerp game.

“Look, the way he plays the game, he’s one who plays on the edge. He is going to make mistakes and I think we all have to appreciate that.

“But I’ve been around him an awful lot and I analyse him closer than most. There is definitely improvement in him, not just as a player but as a human being as well.

“And that’s great to see because myself and the staff, and also his team-mates, have put a lot of work into trying to help him and guide him in the right direction.”

Seeking a big finish

Morelos has now scored 13 goals in a season which saw him take some time to find his optimum form and to overcome any disappointment he felt at a projected move to Lille not materialising last summer.

While he continues to thrive at Europa League level for Rangers, his manager wants to see him find a level of consistency in all competitions as the Premiership leaders enter a stage of the season when the domestic title can be secured along with further progress on the continental stage.

“Alfredo was disappointed to miss games when he was suspended recently, he always is,” added Gerrard.

“We expected him to come back and make up for lost time and I think he is really in the groove. He is smiling and enjoying his football.

“We all know that the Europa League really brings the best out of him. I think his form has been a bit mixed from a domestic point of view. But from the minute we have walked in the door, his Europa League performances and the level of consistency has been really phenomenal.

“We need Alfredo to stay in the groove from now until the end of the season because that could be a big help to us in terms of our success and the outcome of the season.

“Also, it’s helped having people behind him in top form and fit and available. Ryan Kent has three goals in three games now. He’s back in the groove. Joe Aribo is back to full fitness, scoring goals and looking a real threat. Plus, Ianis Hagi has been consistent in his contribution for some time now.

“Adding Scott Wright to that, we have people in our forward positions who are in form and who are fit and fresh and ready. I think those are the reasons why we have scored a lot of goals in the last few games.

“March could be a really special month. But having said that, we have to go and grab it. We have to go and put in performances that get us over the line from a league point of view, starting at Livingston on Wednesday night, and also that try and build on our journey in terms of the Europa League.

“We are coming up against a Slavia Prague team that deserves respect, especially when you look at the journey they have been on by knocking out a Premier League team.

“But we believe we have a good chance if we can find our level. So it’s time to go and deliver. It’s time to go and find performances that are good enough to go and get us over the line. We are hoping March will be a really successful month for us.”

Doubt over Tavernier’s return

Rangers will again be without injured trio James Tavernier, Kemar Roofe and Ryan Jack for the trip to Livingston, while Leon Balogun is doubtful with a calf issue.

“James’ recovery has been slower than we wanted,” said Gerrard. “It’s difficult to put a date on his return. He hasn’t had a setback, it’s one of those injuries where you have to be patient with it. Ryan and Kemar should be back with us some time next week.

“If we get to the stage where we can win it, I hope everyone is on the pitch and available. But sometimes with injuries you just have to let them take their course.

"In an ideal world, he’ll have a positive week this week and get some good news - because if anyone deserves to be around when the team gets over the line, it’s James Tavernier.”

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