Steven Gerrard has reintroduced the right mentality to make Rangers successful again, according to former stars Gregory Vignal and Peter Lovenkrands.
Gerrard had fire in his belly on day one of the season with a measured but explosive outburst in the aftermath of an incident-packed 1-1 draw with Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
He was heavily critical of the officials who sent off Alfredo Morelos but did not dismiss Dom Ball and claimed Rangers have been the victims of bad decisions for years while also claiming his side was a class above the Dons.
Vignal and Lovenkrands know the demands of playing at Ibrox and famously won the title together in 2005 on Helicopter Sunday when Alex McLeish was under intense pressure competing with Martin O’Neill’s Celtic.
They both reckon Gerrard has drilled it into the Rangers players what is expected of them and that was borne out at Pittodrie on Sunday as ten men came within an ace of victory, Bruce Anderson’s late goal cancelling out James Tavernier’s penalty.
Vignal, who played at Liverpool with Gerrard, said: “When you are playing for a big club, you need to be strong mentally.
“If you are not strong mentally it is difficult to be a winner.
“He wants to win titles, the fans want the title and to win trophies. So that is why we need to have this mentality back.
“You need to have the right players with the right character and mentality, that is important.”
Lovenkrands wouldn’t be drawn on Gerrard’s comments about Rangers being on the end of bad decisions over the years, nor his assessment of that the Ibrox side are a class above the Dons, but he nevertheless knows the determination of Gerrard.
He said: “It’s not something I should be saying anything about. The club should support the manager in anything he does.
“Because of the manager’s history and his playing days, he will know all about pressure, so I am sure he will put that to the players and they will understand him.”
“When we were at Rangers, there was pressure in every game no matter who you played against.
“We could go and play Barcelona and we were expected to get a result. That’s just part of being in this club and everyone knows that. That’s just the way it is here.
“At this club we expect to win every game. The pressure would be the same at Manchester City or United – everyone has pressure on them to go and win the game and that’s just the way it is.”
Lovenkrands and Vignal are on the youth coaching staff and have been impressed by Gerrard’s signings.
The Dane added: “I think the players have looked great. Against Aberdeen with ten men they looked strong.
“They looked the more dangerous team and they looked like they were going to score again.
“I think the players who have come in have done a great job. I still think there is more to be done because they need to learn about each other but that will come.
“They need to find out about each other’s strengths and weaknesses so it’s still early days that way but so far I think the manager has done really well to gel the boys together.
“I just thought Rangers deserved to win. I didn’t think Aberdeen threatened them enough to get that goal. I thought it was the only thing they did and they struggled all game, but Rangers were so organised and played so well.”
Vignal added: “I have known Stevie for the last 20 years so I have a good relationship with him. That is good.
“I know he has got targets and the pre-season was good. Hopefully we can have a good season.
“He is a winner. As a player, he was like that and I think he will do everything to win titles, to bring trophies to the club.
“He has changed the mentality and he is a winner. That is the right way when you are playing for this football club. It has been difficult in the last few years but now it is a new project.”
l Vignal and Lovenkrands were promoting the relaunch of Rangers Pools to raise money for the Rangers Youth Development Company.