Steven Gerrard urges Rangers to show no mercy in goal hunt

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard watches his side as they beat Hearts 5-0. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard watches his side as they beat Hearts 5-0. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty
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Steven Gerrard has called on his Rangers players to remain relentless after the Ibrox club moved to within a goal of Celtic at the top of the Premiership.

Rangers padded their goal tally with a a three-goal burst in the final 26 minutes of a 5-0 home romp against hapless Hearts yesterday.

Gerrard would not be drawn on whether goal difference could end up being decisive in this season’s title race but essentially urged his squad to treat it as though it will.

He said; “Look, we want to win by the biggest margin we can. Probably in the players’ eyes, I am a bit of a moaner like that.

“I think some of them maybe want to come off the gas and relax at three or four but not for me. I just want to continue doing the right things.

“We are not at level yet where we can pick or choose when we go on the gas,” added the 39-year-old.

“It has to be consistent. Forget the scoreboard and just play with the correct intensity to try to score as many as 
possible.

“[But] I can’t complain [about not drawing level on goals with Celtic] with a 5-0 win at home on the back of a European night that we had to really push and give a lot in [to draw 2-2 away to Feynoord three days’ earler].

“I’d have some cheek to go in and complain about the number of goals.”

The League Cup final against Celtic on Sunday now looms large for Rangers but the fact that Wednesday will bring a trip to Aberdeen means Gerrard will put the Hampden showpiece to the back of his mind in the coming days.

“You’ve got to go to Pittodrie at some stage in the season,” the Ibrox manager said.

“You don’t pick and choose the fixtures. They’ve come into a bit form of late and we need to forget about the cup final until the final whistle at Aberdeen.”

Hearts interim boss Austin MacPhee cut a forlorn figure after the abject showing from his side. And he was forced to admit the protracted pursuit of a new manager was becoming an issue for a team spared bottom spot in the Premiership only by goal difference.

German Daniel Stendel is believed to be the leading candidate to succeed Craig Levein, sacked 32 days ago.

“The uncertainty of the situation for everyone is something that needs managed very carefully,” said MacPhee, who claimed he will seek to block yesterday’s debacle from the minds of the players as he prepares them for the visit of Livingston on Wednesday.

“I think the longer it goes the more it can at times become an excuse, and it can also become a reality where maybe at times people aren’t as focused on their performance alone as they should be. “I think that so far the players and staff have been fantastic.

“As an assistant manager, one of your main roles is to have strong relationships with your players. The head coach is always a little more distant.

“I’ve got nothing but praise for the professionalism of the players in this period. What I would say is that [owner] Mrs Budge will make the right decision for the long-term future.

“We all know the importance of Hearts picking up points in the very busy Christmas period so we move up the league.

“Right now all I do is manage this on a day-to-day basis and try to be as honest with everyone as I can, and to try and get the team on the pitch that can pick up three points on Wednesday.”