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I'll keep my honest reaction to Rangers' failures in search of long-term benefit, insists Gerrard

 

Must do better: Steven Gerrard has told his Gers players to up their game
Must do better: Steven Gerrard has told his Gers players to up their game

By Andy Newport

Steven Gerrard insists he will continue telling it straight to his Rangers players after accusing them of letting their egos get the better of them against St Johnstone.

The Ibrox boss did not hold back with his criticism in the wake of Saturday's sorry stalemate with Ulsterman Tommy Wright's team as he told the Light Blues to forget about a title push after handing Celtic the chance to open up an eight-point lead.

In another forthright assessment of Gers' weekend woes, Gerrard claimed his players' failure to take Saints' threat seriously was the root of their problems.

It is not the first time the former Liverpool skipper has let rip at his squad and some have questioned the wisdom of that tactic.

But Gerrard is adamant honesty is the best policy as he seeks an improved display against Kilmarnock in tonight's William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round replay.

"I think St Johnstone wasn't just a problem in the 90 minutes," he explained. "Having looked back at the week leading into it, there were certain things that didn't look right.

"I didn't see a hungry team, I didn't see a team with the right mentality to go and embrace the challenge that St Johnstone brought.

"We went in with a bit of ego and just thought we could turn up. We got found out. It is a concern."

He added: "I don't think (my post-match comments) were brutal. It was honest. Probably 99 out of 100 managers would tell them the same thing if they saw what I saw on Saturday.

"Maybe I put it in a more honest and truthful way but I'm not going to change. I don't want to lie or mislead the players.

"The reaction can't be for me. It's got to be for the fans and for the club.

"St Johnstone had 150 supporters at that game, we had 50,000. They are the ones who deserve a standard of performance. It's my job to be truthful.

"I'm not going to sit here and threaten my players. I've got a lot of belief in them. I love them to bits and they have got to places for me and the fans on many occasions that was above and beyond.

"But they were heavily praised for that. That's what I do. I'm not one of these managers who is permanently in their faces.

"There has to be times when you tell players certain things. It can hurt in the short term but in the long term you hope it benefits them."

Gerrard claimed that a number of his players had become "too comfortable" in the Gers dressing room. But he warned that anyone not pulling their weight would be weeded out.

The Ibrox boss - who will welcome Alfredo Morelos back from suspension to face Steve Clarke's side but is still unsure about the fitness of Scott Arfield and Ryan Jack - said: "I'll speak to those individuals and tell them that if I see anyone getting comfortable, or them thinking they can just walk into the team and stay there, then I'll remove them.

"Sometimes you can start going into cruise control. These players are human beings, I've done it myself and had dips in form. It's normal. It's my job to spot it before we get performances like St Johnstone.

"In the main, though, we've got a fantastic group of players who are desperate for success.

"But we are inexperienced in terms of winning even though we all want it yesterday. We might need to be a bit patient."

Kilmarnock boss Clarke has warned that Rangers are not the only team looking to make amends for a disappointing weekend. Clarke believes his players are just as determined to bounce back from a last-gasp 1-0 defeat to Celtic.

When asked whether it was a dangerous time to play "wounded animal" Rangers, Clarke - who could have defender Stuart Findlay available - said: "Same as ourselves. We are wounded, we lost on Sunday.

"And normally we bounce back well from a bad result."

The teams drew 0-0 at Rugby Park in the first game.

Rangers vs Kilmarnock

Scottish Cup fifth round replay:

Ibrox, Tonight, 7.45pm

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