Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has given a concerning update on the state of the Ibrox pitch ahead of the Europa League clash against Bayer Leverkusen, as quoted by the Rangers FC Twitter.
The two sides face off in an 8 pm kick-off on Thursday night for the first leg of their last 16 tie.
Ibrox has been something of a fortress for the Gers in Europe this season, as they have won seven of their eight home fixtures since their qualifying campaign began back in July.
However, there have been real problems with the playing surface in recent times.
During a particularly dire stretch of weather last month, a Premiership fixture against Livingston was put back a day, while the pitch looked more akin to a beach for the Round of 32 game against Braga.
Gerrard says things are improving, but that issues remain.
“The pitch is slightly better but we have not been able to train on it ourselves and unfortunately the same applies for Leverkusen,” he said, as quoted by Rangers FC Twitter.
“The pitch will be rectified in the future.”
🎙️ SG: The pitch is slightly better but we have not been able to train on it ourselves and unfortunately the same applies for Leverkusen. The pitch will be rectified in the future.
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) March 11, 2020
With a high profile match taking place on Thursday night, it doesn’t reflect overly well on the club that the pitch condition will be below par.
Clearly, there were concerns that even a light training session could have a detrimental impact on the fragile surface.
Consistently poor weather over the past few months won’t have helped the groundstaff’s cause, but there needs to be a rethink at the end of the season about how to resolve this persistent issue.
In the short term, it could work in the Gers’ favour.
Leverkusen are a dynamic attacking side who will want to get the ball down and play with tempo. Naturally, a slow and bumpy surface won’t be conducive to that.
Furthermore, the fact that the opposition players haven’t had a chance to get inside the stadium to get a feel for the pitch and its dimensions, could give the Gers an advantage in the early stages.
The German club’s squad is full of top-quality talent, but if the crowd can whip up an atmosphere and the Gers start well, there’s always a chance they could be caught cold.