Rangers’ defensive frailties have derailed their title bid and Steven Gerrard knows he must find solutions

Steven Gerrard has vowed to find the solutions to the defensive frailties that have potentially wrecked Rangers’ title hopes.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard shows his frustration. Picture: Alan Harvey / SNS
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard shows his frustration. Picture: Alan Harvey / SNS

The Ibrox manager admits he has lost patience after basic mistakes saw Rangers drop more points in a 2-2 draw with St Johnstone in Perth.

Half-time substitute Florian Kamberi looked to have rescued his side’s hopes after he cancelled out Callum Hendry’s opener and then set up Joe Aribo to put the visitors ahead. But Stevie May’s 100th career goal earned in-form St Johnstone a deserved point and left Gerrard seething at the end.

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Celtic’s 3-1 win over Kilmarnock means Rangers have now fallen 12 points behind the leaders. Gerrard’s side trailed Celtic by just two points beating St Mirren 1-0 in the first league fixture back after the winter break. They also had a game in hand.

Nikola Katic, crouching, looks disappointed at full time. Picture: Rob Casey / SNS

They still have that game in hand. However, the situation is no longer in their own hands after dropping eight points in three away fixtures against Hearts, Kilmarnock and St Johnstone.

Defensive lapses have been at the heart of their problems and were even to blame for Rangers falling two goals behind against Braga last midweek. While they were able to overcome that setback with three late goals, Rangers were the ones stung yesterday after looking to have retrieved the situation.

“I should be sitting here waxing lyrical about Flo Kamberi and Joe Aribo,” said Gerrard. “I should be, and maybe Alfredo [Morelos] if he took his chance. From an attacking point of view, second half I thought we were outstanding.

“But we keep shooting ourselves in the foot by conceding silly, silly goals and we forgot the real good, strong basics of defending and it has cost us on two occasions and nearly three, only for Allan McGregor to pull off a world class save.

“I am frustrated and concerned with us defensively because it has happened too many times now,” he added. “That is Aberdeen, Killie, Braga, Hearts, St Johnstone. That is too many times for this football club. I am going to have to find solutions.”

Nicola Katic would appear to have most to fear after a nervous, error-strewn performance against St Johnstone. As well as being at fault for Hendry’s opener it was his half-clearance that was slammed in by May for the equaliser with ten minutes left.

“There have been times this season where I have stood on the side and thought ‘fair play’ that is a real world-class strike or a real good bit of play,” said Gerrard. “[But] these goals, teams are not cutting us to pieces, it is not individual brilliance that is killing us. It is us, ourselves, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. It is my job to make sure that stops as quickly as I can.”

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St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright, meanwhile, revealed that kitman Graeme Robertson had an inadvertent part to play in the Perth side’s comeback.

Wright admitted he had changed his mind about swapping Anthony Ralston with Michael O’Halloran in the second half and instead wanted May to come off.

But this change of heart was not communicated to Robertson. He put 21 – Ralston’s number – on the board and the original change was made, with May being spared.

“I told the players don’t let anyone tell you you can’t get luck because we did,” said Wright.