Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has suggested that he and his players need greater “protection” from inside the Ibrox club.
The club’s domestic collapse – including the first back-to-back losses of his 22-month tenure which have all but ended any realistic propsect of trophy success – have been compounded by disquiet over comments on the side’s fortitude made by Ryan Kent, James Tavernier, coach Michael Beale and the manager himself in recent weeks.
Tavernier’s programme notes from the home defeat by Hamilton in midweek where he stated “whenever anybody puts a bit of pressure on us in Scotland or gets in our face it seems to affect us too much” infuriated a Rangers support already dismayed by Kent’s earlier claim that Rangers have fared beter in Europe because their “underdog” status “means there’s less tension in our play and less expectation”.
Meanwhile, in a Rangers TV interview last week first team coach Michael Beale put the contrast between the team’s form on the continent and in Scotland down to the fact that in Europe “games are refereed in a certain way...are played more technically and less physically and that suits a lot of the players we have”.
As an adjunct, Gerrard has questioned his team’s mentality after some of the six domestic fixtures they have failed to win since the winter break.
The Ibrox manager believes there is a need for greater filtering of the club’s football personnel, in what might be seen as a curious criticism of Rangers’ in-house media. To that end, he intimated Tavernier’s programme notes should not have seen the light of day.
“Sometimes when you say certain things, it’s got to be checked before it goes out at certain times,” Gerrard said. “You know that and I know that. I think James has maybe said something there that in hindsight he probably doesn’t mean, or it has been taken out of context, and he is getting a lot of criticism for it. Maybe it could have been avoided.
“From time to time, the players or myself or the staff are going to get things wrong, especially in the heat of the moment. We are human beings, we are not perfect, we don’t pretend to be perfect.
“The players in that dressing room are at stages of their career where they are all trying to improve and learn and grow and none of them think they are there. So I think at times they are going to get things wrong and make mistakes. And at the same time we are at a club where we need protection at times. We need people to look out for us at times and help us. There are things that I have said during my career, since I have been manager here recently, that maybe I would have said a little bit different and maybe I regret saying certain things. But I am a human being, that is the way it is. Have you said everything perfect and right throughout your life?”