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Rangers boss Gerrard demands response from players after shock League Cup exit at hands of St Mirren

 

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Knockout blow: St Mirren’s Conor McCarthy (right) celebrates dumping Rangers out of the Scottish League Cup

Knockout blow: St Mirren’s Conor McCarthy (right) celebrates dumping Rangers out of the Scottish League Cup

PA

Knockout blow: St Mirren’s Conor McCarthy (right) celebrates dumping Rangers out of the Scottish League Cup

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard turned the blame onto himself after his side's stunning Betfred Cup exit to St Mirren on Wednesday night at St Mirren Park.

The Light Blues saw their unbeaten start to the season ended in hugely disappointing fashion as Conor McCarthy struck in second-half injury time to dump them out of the tournament with a 3-2 defeat.

It's Rangers' first loss in 28 games and came at the most unexpected of times given they have already seen off the likes of Benfica and Standard Liege in the Europa League.

Jamie McGrath's double had put St Mirren ahead after Connor Goldson had put Gerrard's side in front, before Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis looked to have forced extra-time with a late equaliser.

But Irishman McCarthy instead settled it in the 92nd minute, leaving Gerrard devastated that another chance at a maiden trophy at Ibrox has passed him by.

“This is one where I’ll take the blame, I’m responsible for it all – because the players have been absolutely first class since the first day of pre-season," said the manager.

“We’ve had an awful lot of praise as a group, defensively and offensively. But tonight we just weren’t at it. And to concede the three goals in the manner that we did is obviously disappointing.

“But I’m responsible for it. So we have to take what’s going to come our way. It’ll be a bit different for us, in terms of the season.

“To call it a crazy night would be respectful to us. Look, we haven’t performed well and I’m responsible for that. I made all the decisions, the tactical and personnel, I tweaked certain things.

“I’m not going to point any fingers or criticise anyone because they’re my players. I signed the majority, if not all of them. I pick the tactics, make the decisions.

“So it’s on me. I’m going to stand forward and take the responsibility. I’m bitterly disappointed because it’s an opportunity missed.”

The Glasgow giants will have to respond quickly, however, as they will get the chance to open up a 16-point lead at the top of the Premiership on Sunday.

With rivals Celtic in Scottish Cup final action, Gerrard's Gers could pull even further ahead in the title race when they welcome Stephen Robinson's Motherwell to Ibrox on the same day.

And Gerrard insisted: “I’ll demand that we react in the right way. We can’t allow the disappointment to spiral. At the moment emotions are running high, after a setback like this.

“But you have a choice in these situations. And you find out a lot about the group, about players. I know what I’ll be doing. I’ll be trying to react in a positive way. 

“Of course it will sting. It will hurt. But it’s my job to pick them up and make sure they go again. Compared to the rest of the performances, 27 unbeaten or whatever it is, the players have been outstanding.

“They gave us a lot more than we expected. But tonight we just weren’t at it as a group. You are not expecting to win every game and there will be bumps in the road.

“But this is more than a bump. It was a big opportunity. In the league or Europe, you get a chance to recover. But there’s no chance to recover in a knockout competition, so it stings even harder.

“So we have to live with that and take what’s going to come our way. My job now is a big job, to make sure we are ready to go again.”

Belfast Telegraph


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