Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

Gerrard's faith meant so much, says Tavernier


Hitting back: James Tavernier is out to get over tough spell
Hitting back: James Tavernier is out to get over tough spell

By Ronnie Esplin

Rangers captain James Tavernier has revealed that the backing of Steven Gerrard during recent fans' criticism lifted a weight from his shoulders.

The 28-year-old right-back had come in for some stick for recent performances and it heightened when he missed another penalty in the 2-1 Ladbrokes Premiership win over Motherwell at Ibrox on Sunday, his third from five attempts this season.

Gerrard called for the Rangers supporters to get behind their skipper, which they did with gusto in the 4-0 win over Ross County in Dingwall on Wednesday.

Tavernier, speaking ahead of the Betfred Cup semi-final against Hearts on Sunday, was coy about whether or not he was still on penalty duties.

He said: "We will have to see if one comes in the next game. But yes, I am definitely confident to take another penalty."

However, he was clearer about what the support of his manager meant to him.

"I had a quiet chat with the gaffer," said the former Wigan player. "He has my back and so do the staff, and all the players are right behind me. It takes a bit of a weight off your shoulders.

"You know you have the full backing of the staff, you don't have to worry too much. You can just go out and express yourself.

"It was a great showing by the fans last night, singing my name, so it was good. It's part of the game, you will have ups and downs. I believe in myself and the character I am to bounce back if I do dip in form. I will use it to motivate me even more."

While Tavernier was speaking to the media, it was confirmed that Craig Levein had been sacked as Hearts manager.

The Gorgie club announced Levein would not return to his previous position as director of football and had stepped down from the club's board, although he will stay on in a lesser role until the end of the season.

Tavernier, however, insists that decision will have little bearing on Sunday's game.

He said: "They have the same players. As a player you just want to win the next game, so I wouldn't have thought anything would change in their minds.

"They are one game away from a final so they will have that in the back of their minds.

"It doesn't affect us much. You can get teams that respond really well from people being sacked. It's not great news but we know it is going to be a tough game.

"They put in a tough game against us at Tynecastle (1-1 draw) but if we deliver the same performance as last night we will have a really good foothold."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph