GERRARD WANTS MORE

Rangers man­ager not happy de­spite his side’s 4-0 win Sport

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Fraser Mackie

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

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