Steven Gerrard has called on his Rangers squad to again stand up and be counted at De Kuip as they strive to reach the last 32 of the Europa League.
The Ibrox outfit are looking for the result that will extend their European campaign beyond Christmas for the first time in nine years when they take on Feyenoord in Rotterdam tonight.
Rangers will qualify out of Group G with a game to spare if they can better Porto’s result at Young Boys. But Gerrard knows it will be no easy task as they prepare to walk out in front of the notoriously noisy crowd at the Dutch giants’ famous 51,000-seater home.
Rangers have already survived trips to Legia Warsaw and Porto on their travels this season and their boss admits it will take another show of bravery to see his side follow Celtic into the knockout stages. He said: “I’m going to need the players to be brave. I need players who can handle the atmosphere, certainly early on.
“It’s the reason why I rested Steve Davis at the weekend, so he could be fresh. I need big players with character and bravery. They need to stand up and be counted.
“We’ve certainly rehearsed this type of challenge. We took on Legia in front of an incredible atmosphere and stood up and were brave in front of a hostile arena. But I’m still going to need players to perform.
“I need my attacking players to provide big moments for us. We’re going to have to stick together because we’re aware this is a lot tougher than the task we faced at Ibrox.”
Gerrard – who is sweating on the fitness of Borna Barisic, pictured, having already lost Jermain Defoe to injury – has already seen his side get the better of Feyenoord in their group opener, with Sheyi Ojo’s strike sealing a 1-0 Ibrox win.
That defeat sparked a woeful run of results that eventually cost Jaap Stam his job and it will be former Rangers manager Dick Advocaat in the opposite dugout tonight. But Gerrard reckons the wily 72-year-old has already filled the gaps Rangers were able to exploit in September.
“Dick is a manager who has been at this level for many, many years,” he said. “I’ve got an incredible amount of respect for him. He has big experiences throughout Europe. A manager like that will always give a team a lift, will improve certain things. I’m sure he could look in at Feyenoord and see where things were going wrong and I’ve noticed that he’s tweaked those areas already having studied their recent performances.
“It will be a more difficult challenge than at Ibrox.”
Making the last 32 would represent a huge achievement for both Rangers and their young boss.
But Gerrard is only focusing on its importance to the club.
“I haven’t really thought about it, personally, it’s certainly not about me,” he insisted. “I’ll maybe look back at end of career and judge it then.
“But I’m focused on the 90 minutes, the threat Feyenoord will pose us, how they try to stop us.
“This is about the team, about the club. It would be a big, big achievement for the club, if you can compare to where we started 18 months ago.
“From a personal point of view, it’s not important. But for the club, the fans, it would put us on a different level.”
Meanwhile, Gerrard insists his relationship with Dave King will not change despite the Rangers chairman announcing he is set to step down. King broke the shock news at the Ibrox club’s annual meeting on Tuesday that he plans to give up his boardroom role in the new
But he will remain as Rangers’ major shareholder and Gerrard says that is good news for him after developing a close relationship with the South Africa-based businessman since taking over at Ibrox 18 months ago.
Gerrard said: “I met Dave on Saturday night, we had dinner together, he told me about his decision.
“I’ve got massive respect for Dave and the job he’s done chairing the board
“The positive thing is he’s not going anywhere. He’ll still be a shareholder. He’ll still be about. I think it’s important that I’ve got that relationship.
“Dave is somebody that I trust very much. He’s given me fantastic s upport.
“He was a big influence on my decision to come here in the first place. The main thing that came out of meal was the relationship won’t change. He’ll still be there for me. That’s very important.”