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Stephen Craigan

Inconsistent Rangers showed fear and let big opportunity slip by

Stephen Craigan


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Rangers boss Steven Gerrard

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard

PA

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard

Rangers' performance and defeat on Thursday night against Bayer Leverkusen epitomised their recent games.

If they had been arriving for the Europa League last-16 game in top form it still would have been a daunting task, but one they would have relished.

Steven Gerrard put his players on the pitch and had no idea what he'd get because of their inconsistent displays over the last couple of months.

Once again they lacked cohesion in their play and looked really nervous in possession, particularly in the first half.

They looked frightened and couldn't get into any sort of rhythm. Too often they took a step back through fear, allowing Bayer Leverkusen to dominate proceedings and gain confidence.

That's a natural move to make when, as a player and as a team, you're struggling to find your top form; you retreat and protect as opposed to being brave and courageous.

In the second half Rangers did improve and take the game to Leverkusen but still looked a shadow of themselves from earlier matches. This was a step up in class and, in all honesty, they struggled to cope with it in their current predicament.

Rangers have excelled in European football this season and defeat was a first for Gerrard on the continent but no doubt he'll reflect on what could have been. He and his players have a lot of work to do to get back to their best and this extended break may give them a chance to iron a few things out.

Belfast Telegraph