The 1-0 defeat to Livingston clearly had Steven Gerrard angry after Sunday, that much was clear.
But, has the Rangers manager just hinted that he’s set for a much-changed starting XI on Thursday night? Rangers host Rapid Vienna in a clash many feel is a must-win if the Gers are to have hopes of qualifying. Rapid beat Spartak Moscow on opening day, whilst Rangers drew 2-2 in Villarreal.
The importance of Thursday night’s fixture cannot be underplayed. Gerrard will want to put what he feels is his strongest team out, but does his comments last night suggest he now sees his best XI differently?
Speaking to Rangers TV, Gerrard said the following:
“I think we have learnt a lot about some individual players and about us as a team. Some things smack you in the face and are made that little bit more obvious. There is a saying in football “You learn more through defeat” and I can definitely understand that.
“This defeat will improve me because I made a few mistakes within that game on Sunday as well. The first thing I do is I always analyse myself and my staff, what did we do? Did we do anything wrong? Could we have done anything different or better?
“You hope that your players going do that themselves individually because if you are a proper player then the first thing you do is self-reflect and analyse yourself.”
A fuming Gerrard
Gerrard was clearly fuming with his charges after the Livingston set-back. The manner of both the defeat and the performance will rankle the Gers coach. It was a display that nobody expected, and clearly Gerrard was on that list.
Yesterday we spoke about how ominous those comments were. We touched on how a more settled starting XI could now be put into place by the Gers manager. But will it be much-changed from the side who disappointed the manager so much at the Tony Macaroni Arena?
It shouldn’t feel this way, but perhaps too many see their places in the side as nailed on. The likes of Ovie Ejaria, Lassana Coulibaly, and Alfredo Morelos play week-in, week-out when they’re fit. All three were anonymous on Sunday.
It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see four or five changes on Thursday night in what’s a must-win game. Rangers have no other option against Rapid. Another defeat would compound Sunday’s misery and increase the pressure on the squad. At this moment in time, that’s something Rangers could do without.
Gerrard clearly feels he’s learned something new about his side that he doesn’t like. About 10 out of the starting XI should feel their place is under threat on Thursday. If Gerrard goes with the same team that started the Livi match against Rapid, then many Gers followers will be surprised.
Is he set to wield the axe instead? Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but changes will be made.