Rangers ‘too big’ for some players – which is cause of discipline issues
Steven Gerrard’s been criticised for talking about transfers, after signing so many players in the summer, but what he’s saying is true, he needs more – and you hear the same thing from other managers, just look at Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.
The proof is there. Who in the English Premier League would take any of Steven’s players at the moment? I don’t think there’d be a rush for them. But, for Celtic’s squad, there’d be a scramble for one or two of them.
A lot of Rangers’s signings have come from non-competitive games in the reserves, or at teams that haven’t had to compete, never a team like Rangers. So it comes as a shock when you arrive in Glasgow.
It takes a while to get used to this 24-hour demand for success, where you have to win everything.
The first few months are difficult, that’s why it’s handy to have players who have been there a while – at Celtic, it was useful having players to indoctrinate the new boys in what it meant to play in an Old Firm.
And that’s where the disciplinary issues have come from. It’s people not understanding, being thrown into Rangers from a small league or under-23 level, and taking on the expectation of winning every game.
It’s too much for them and they become too emotional.
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So if the game’s running away from them, they’re so desperate to win that they cannot keep their emotions in check. The club, at the moment, is maybe too big for them to understand.
If you’ve got 50,000 people screaming that you win every tackle, you go in there jumping about and shouting your head off, you get sent off.
For some, petulance is a problem. If you look at Alfredo Morelos’s record at Helsinki, did he keep getting sent off there? No. It’s the fact he’s playing for Rangers, and it’s testing his mental strength, on and off the pitch.
It’s a real shock to people to go there, and maybe it’s too much for him. And he’s letting his team down. The fans might cheer him off, and the manager might support him publicly, but he’s knackering the team, and risking the result.
There must come a point where you think ‘I’m going to affect my team’. You have to be above the selfishness. It’s like when I was at Leeds, everyone wanted to play to the macho image and endear themselves to the crowd.
But you need to endear yourself to your team mates. I had a problem with Vinnie Jones when I first got there, because he got sent off in a friendly against Anderlecht, leaving us to get beat 5-0. He got cheered off the pitch by the crowd, but I had to say to him after ‘I’m not about that at my age, running around with ten men’, and he clicked immediately.
He realised he was letting his team down and, above all the celebrity stuff, Vinnie was a team player. He only got booked once that season. He rose above all the propaganda and nonsense, and Morelos needs to do the same now.
If you get sent off but the team keeps winning, that’s fine, they clearly don’t need you. Eventually you’ll get dropped. But if you’re an influence, your actions will affect the whole club, so you’ve got to take responsibility.
It’s up to Morelos to decide if his behaviour improves or takes away from the club. Someone’s got to have a word with him, whether it’s the captain, like with me and Vinnie. Sometimes that’s all it takes, the penny might drop – but, for some players, it never will.
Celtic still two years ahead of Rangers
It’s great to have a title race in Scotland – Rangers could win the title, but I don’t think they will. Celtic are still by far the best squad, who’ve been together a long time and know what’s needed, with individual players who can win games.
Celtic are at least two years ahead of Rangers just now. But I’m sure Steven and Gary will bring them closer and closer – as long as it’s not too close, that’s alright with me.
• Gordon Strachan was speaking exclusively to Paddy Power News. To read more, visit news.paddypower.com