Steven Gerrard has said that his Rangers side will have to accept criticism after their shock Champions League exit but he is convinced that their form will improve.
A 2-1 defeat at Ibrox to a Malmo side reduced to ten men ended hopes of progressing in the elite competition, and came days after Dundee United had beaten the champions in the Premiership.
Having seen his side take the lead through Alfredo Morelos before losing two quickfire goals in the second half, the Rangers manager admitted his frustration and said that the defensive performance hadn’t been good enough.
Gerrard said that the loss, in a competition he said was a “priority”, meant that criticism and “noise” was inevitable but feels the team still has plenty to aim for this season.
“The last week hasn’t gone to plan,” he said. “We’ve underachieved in this competition over both legs, there’s no getting away from that.
“But it’s still very early days in terms of domestic competition. Two games haven’t started and we’re two games into the other.
“For me, I think there will be a bit of panic on the outside, a bit of noise and criticism. That’s the reality and we have to accept that.
“In terms of me and my staff, we certainly won’t be because we’ve got a lot of belief in this group. We’ll try and get our better players and the players who are capable of performing at this level back into the pitch and the team and in a better place and I’m sure our form will turn.”
The result was a massive disappointment for Rangers supporters at Ibrox as they returned for the first full capacity crowd since the onset of the pandemic. Gerrard praised their efforts and regretted that the team hadn’t delivered the result they wanted.
“The fans gave us a huge performance and none of this is on them,” he said. “They turned up tonight and I thank them for that.
“Unfortunately we only gave them half a job tonight and we need to take responsibility for that. But the fans were terrific.”
Rangers now turn their attention to the League Cup match against Dunfermline on Friday and the manager said he will be looking to the big characters in the squad to help refocus the team and move on past their Champions League disapppointment.
He said: “We have got strong leaders in the dressing room and I trust them a lot. I’ll speak to them in the coming days and they have got big responsibilities to help reset and go again.
“I think every manager is the same but it’s the same on winning runs, you want to go speak to your senior players to maintain the standards and keep the level of consistency.
“It’s not a case of just waiting for a defeat or a bad week and then turning to your senior players, you’ve got to have that relationship with them all the time. But now, our supporters need them a lot to try and flip the form and the mood of the place.”