Steven Gerrard launches self-criticism of cup record as Rangers manager after St Johnstone defeat
Steven Gerrard has admitted his domestic cup record as Rangers manager is inadequate after watching his team beaten on penalties by St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals at Ibrox.
It is the third consecutive last eight Scottish Cup exit of Gerrard’s tenure which has also seen three failures to win the League Cup.
While his success in winning a first Premiership title is by far the defining and most significant achievement of this season, Gerrard accepts that his strike rate in lifting silverware has to improve.
“That's a challenge for me to improve on cup competitions and get a group that's capable of being better and giving our fans what they deserve, which is more trophies – not just one out of nine,” he said. “That's not good enough.”
Rangers looked to have secured a place in the semi-finals when captain James Tavernier broke the deadlock late in the second half of extra-time.
But a dramatic 122nd minute equaliser, when Saints goalkeeper Zander Clark’s header was turned in by Chris Kane, forced the shoot-out in which Clark’s saves from Tavernier and Kemar Roofe proved decisive.
“We have again been stung by not being able to see the game out,” said Gerrard. “This was a tough game tonight and credit to St Johnstone, so congratulations to them.
“They defended really well, they were organised, they were stubborn. But we kept asking a lot of questions. We kept trying to create and I think over the course of 90 minutes and the 120 it was us who probably deserved to win it.
“But cup football doesn't work like that and you don't always get what you deserve. One thing that is crucial is the final moments when you get yourselves in front.
“We need to manage the ball better high up by the corner flags. We need to be further up the pitch, pressing. Maybe stopping the game and being clever.
“We never did that well enough, it led to a corner and then someone who is six foot eight for some reason is free in the box. That can't happen. That's on me, that's on us and we have to accept responsibility for that.
“We won't shy away from the importance of the game. The Scottish Cup became a priority as soon as the league was done and we were out of Europe.
“We're getting to this stage too many times and getting stung - for example, St Mirren in the League Cup - in the final moments of games.”
St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson who remains on course for a cup double after his team won the League Cup in February, was justifiably thrilled by the victory.
“My players were fantastic,” said Davidson. “I’d have been really proud of them even if we’d lost 1-0.
“We didn’t just sit in. We tried to have a go. To concede with five minutes to go of the 120 minutes against the top side in the country, you think ‘That’s us out’.
“Big Zander has come up and got on the end of the cross to help us get the equaliser – that’s why he plays head tennis with us, he tells me.
“Penalties can go either way but fortunately they went for us. The players showed their character again.”
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