GERRARD WANTS MORE
Rangers manager not happy despite his side’s 4-0 win Sport
STEVEN GERRARD last night left his Rangers players in no doubt about the Ibrox standards he expects, ripping into their performance after a rampant 4-0 win over Dundee.
Rangers never looked back after Lassana Coulibaly scored a fourth-minute goal on his comeback appearance from a month out injured.
They could have doubled the margin of victory either before or after Dundee’s Kenny Miller was sent off late during his Ibrox return.
That added up to a most satisfactory warm-up for the Europa League group stage kick-off against Villarreal in Spain on Thursday night.
However, Gerrard said: ‘I’m not sure we got a (performance) to be honest. We got a win, an important win, we got four goals and a clean sheet. But it wasn’t a great performance.
‘It was okay, it was good enough but we will play better than that. I want as many goals as we can get. I want to create a team that is ruthless and relentless — and we weren’t.
‘We deserve more goals. I don’t just want to get
LOOKING all the better for a breather after a draining schedule of 13 games in eight weeks, Rangers emerged from the international fortnight fit and firing with a four-goal victory that could have been much more against ten-man Dundee.
There was a jaded touch about their effort at Celtic Park following European action, rounding off a first phase of league action with what Steven Gerrard described as an ‘unacceptable’ five-point haul.
He wasn’t much more complimentary here after watching his side storm to their second home Premiership victory. However, that’s more a sign of the standards demanded by the manager than any hint of unhappiness at his players who brushed aside the bottom club.
This was just the kind of warm-up for a European midweek that Gerrard (right) would love to experience five more times in this campaign. The points were safe by the break thanks to goals from loan Rangers Lassana Coulibaly and Ryan Kent plus a James Tavernier penalty.
For Kent and Scotland Under-19 winger Glenn Middleton, who added the fourth, their first goals for the club were huge confidence boosters.
In the first of only two Saturday 3pm starts until Christmas for Rangers, this was a return to normal service.
Neil McCann endured two visits to Ibrox last season as Dundee manager against his former club. Both Pedro Caixinha and Graeme Murty teams scored four against his team. So imagine what an improved Rangers could achieve. We didn’t need to wait long to find out.
Gerrard’s group were hungry and refreshed. That combination made for an instantly uncomfortable feeling for the visitors and Kenny Miller, who returned to Govan as Dundee captain in the absence of Josh Meekings, one of several key defenders not available to McCann.
Miller knows all about how a fast Rangers start can set the tone for the day at Ibrox. When his new team were 2-0 down inside 14 minutes and he had barely had a kick, there was to be no happy return. A torrid afternoon was capped by a red card for the veteran striker.
Booked for a stray elbow on Andy Halliday, handing his former team-mate a third broken nose of his career, his challenge on Borna Barisic in 78 minutes drew a straight red card from Kevin Clancy.
There was sympathetic and appreciative applause for Miller as he handed over the armband and sloped off.
That’s not exactly what Gerrard had in mind when he spoke of the Ibrox crowd affording their former favourite a quality reception on his return. Indeed it was to turn out downright miserable for the 38-year-old, who left high-flying Livingston and likely now finds himself banned from helping Dundee source a first point of the league season. Gerrard was forced into changes because of injury to Ryan Jack but found a fine midfield blend as Coulibaly returned from injury. Last seen in a sitting role after Ross McCrorie’s dismissal against St Mirren a month ago, Coulibaly’s drive complemented Scott Arfield and Halliday as Rangers seized control of the game from the off. Coulibaly covers some ground in midfield and his energy was the spark for Rangers tearing into a fourth-minute lead. Alfredo Morelos and Daniel Candeias combined on the right, giving the Colombian an angle for the shot. That was blocked but the ball broke to Barisic,
whose shot cannoned off Paul McGowan into the path of Coulibaly and he pounced to bury his second goal for the club.
The Malian also threatened with an overhead kick during a 55-minute return and he was allowed to rest up when Middleton replaced him.
The visitors were swamped after the opener and the offside flag saved them from sinking deeper into trouble. Morelos criminally strayed before converting a Candeias ball past Elliot Parish. That would have rounded off a stunning counter-attack from Rangers. But there was more where that came from.
Kent’s darting run from the left saw him work the ball off Morelos before an exchange with Arfield sent the winger clear to slam the ball home.
The keeper then pushed away another Kent effort to prevent Rangers scoring a third ten minutes before the break. In added time, however, he was beaten again. Morelos was carelessly hauled down by Darren O’Dea as he burst into the area and Tavernier tucked home his fourth spot-kick of the season. There was added fun for the Rangers fans because O’Dea had been villain of the peace with an over-zealous challenge to send Morelos flying then a follow-through on Tavernier earlier in the first half.
The second period got no better for the former Celtic man. He was robbed by Candeias, who presented Morelos with a glorious chance for a fourth. But the Colombian dwelt too long on the ball and Cammy Kerr blocked his effort.
The pick of Parish’s saves was a fingertip effort to deny Morelos. An Arfield header then scraped the crossbar and Rangers’ dominance allowed Gerrard to shake up his side.
The changes featured a 15-minute debut for Albanian winger Eros Grezda and Kyle Lafferty’s first domestic appearance at Ibrox since his return.
As Gerrard will discover, the age-old problem of stepping into Europe following a breeze on the home front presents another challenge to his steep managerial learning curve at Rangers.
OFF AND RUNNING : Coulibaly enjoys scoring Rangers’ opening goal
Miller time is cut short... Kenny Miller’s return to Ibrox was eventful but he did not last the 90 minutes. He was booked for elbowing Andy Halliday (above), then a red card loomed after fouling Borna Barisic