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Holt wrong to call me out as naive, says Gerrard

Livingston 0 Rangers 2

Happy days: Rangers ace Joe Aribo celebrates opening the scoring with Borna Barisic
Happy days: Rangers ace Joe Aribo celebrates opening the scoring with Borna Barisic
Steven Gerrard

By Gavin McCafferty

Steven Gerrard claimed Livingston manager Gary Holt was wide of the mark with his pre-match comments while his Rangers team were spot on with their performance.

Holt had defended his team's approach and accused Gerrard of being "naive" following remarks made ahead of Rangers' 2-0 win in West Lothian.

Gerrard had called for better protection for players from head injuries after seeing Joe Aribo leave the Tony Macaroni Arena with 20 stitches in a head wound following an aerial challenge with Ricki Lamie when Rangers won narrowly in the Betfred Cup in September.

Aribo took centre stage again by scoring a 32nd-minute opener following a good break from Scott Arfield, and Alfredo Morelos made it a comfortable afternoon after netting from a tight angle early in the second half.

When asked about Holt's comments, which were made in a Sunday newspaper column, Gerrard said: "Listen, he's entitled to his own opinion and whatever he wants to say but I think he needs to look at my press conference properly, because not once did I say that Lamie elbowed my player. I said he led with his forearm.

"All I asked for in the press conference was protection for all players across the league and across the board, and I said we had to stand up to the physical challenge of Livingston. And that's what we did, and we did it ever so well.

"I have no problem with Gary's comments but if and when he watches the press conference, he has got a few things widely wrong.

"I shook his hand before the game and after the game. It's not about me and Gary Holt, it's about how good Rangers were.

"We were outstanding from start to finish, we dominated the opposition and controlled the game. I think you saw a different side of us, we were tough all over the place and at the right times we played some quality stuff."

Holt was in a conciliatory mood after the final whistle.

When asked if he would invite Gerrard into his office for a drink, Holt said: "As always, the door is always open. Hopefully he will come in and I can give him a cuddle.

"I always shake hands and always wish the opposition the best at the end of the game. I'm a big enough boy to accept defeat so I congratulated him on his team's performance and to be fair they deserved the win.

"I can't say there was anything naughty and nasty and anything bad. They were better in certain areas and we never caused enough problems.

"It was probably the toughest day at the office I've had since I came in. I just felt we were a wee bit more reactive rather than proactive. We were waiting for something to happen and you can't do that against a right good side like Rangers."

Gerrard was pleased for Aribo to score on his return to Livingston after recalling him and Arfield following the Europa League win over Porto.

Gerrard said: "I was chuffed for Joe and Scott because when I picked the last couple of XIs it was touch and go with both of them.

"They have trained ever so well and come and done what you should do when you are left out of the team, which is contribute and show the manager you were probably wrong."

Belfast Telegraph


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