Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has questioned his side’s mentality after they crashed to a 2-1 defeat at Kilmarnock.
The Ibrox side lost after being 1-0 up at Rugby Park, continuing a run of inconsistent form that has seen their title hopes fade since the winter break.
A win at Celtic Park in December had Gerrard’s team two points behind their city rivals with a game in hand but defeat on Wednesday saw the gap stretch to ten points.
Gerrard didn’t hold back in his assessment of the team, saying they hadn’t been good enough in the last month.
“We never coped with or handled the heat or the pressure,” he said. “We never played like a team that was trying to fight to remain in a title race or a team that was trying to compete and come away from here with three points.
“We just couldn’t handle the heat or the pressure.
“The reality is that the opposition are in the driving seat. That’s down to two things: their form and us not being good enough since the winter break.”
The former Liverpool captain said he would shoulder the blame but admitted to being worried about form. Having seen his side drop off after their break last January, he thought the squad was better equipped to cope this year.
He said: “I put this group together and I coach them, it’s my tactics and my decisions so I’m not going to sit here and try and force blame in any other direction than on myself.
“It’s disappointing and frustrating at the moment. We keep going and keep fighting but on the evidence of the second half tonight, it’s very worrying for me sitting here right now.
“I didn’t expect it. I thought we had improved and progressed enough to handle the return a lot better than last season but it’s certainly something I’ll be looking closely at.”
The Ibrox side now face a league encounter with Livingston this weekend before a Europa League tie against Braga.
“We go on to the next game,” Gerrard said. “It’s not the time for me to say I want to make wholesale changes and I still have belief and confidence in this group of players.
“We let ourselves and our supporters down tonight but this is the same group of players that had an incredible first half to the season.”