Steven Gerrard believes Rangers need to spend more in the transfer market if they are to make an impact in European competition.
Gerrard saw his Rangers side beaten 1-0 by Sparta Prague on Thursday, having been beaten at Ibrox by Lyon in their opening group stage match. The Premiership winners had dropped into the competition after being beaten in Champions League qualifying.
The defeat in Prague continued an uneven start to the season for Rangers, who haven’t yet found the consistent form that saw them lift silverware last season.
Gerrard pointed out that injuries had meant it was impossible for him to put out the same line-up consistently, but then said that European progress couldn’t be achieved without the club spending money on transfer fees.
“We’re trying to find the perfect solution, this settled team, that will play with this spark and little bit of life that we’ve been missing, if you like,” he said.
“What I would say is that we’re not concerned or worried here, we’ve been short in the two Europa League games, but at this level, which is improving year in, year out, if we want to keep growing and going to the extra level then we need to spend big money in transfer windows.
“It’s as simple as that. To compete with the teams we’re playing against we have to spend big money.
“In the last two windows we haven’t spent a penny.”
Rangers brought in Nnamdi Ofoborh, Fashion Sakala and John Lundstram this summer under freedom of contract, while there was no upfront fee paid for Juninho Bacuna when he joined from Huddersfield Town.
In January, Scott Wright arrived from Aberdeen for an undisclosed fee, while Jack Simpson signed from Bournemouth after agreeing a pre-contract deal.
Gerrard says the club needs to be spending significant amounts if they want to be at a point where they can expect positive results against Europe’s established names.
“So there has to be some realism,” he added. “To compete with these teams, and to beat these teams on their own patch, when transfer windows are open we have to spend money to compete. Not just win, just to compete.
“So there has to be some common sense when you’re judging us from the outside.”
The manager, who expects to change his team again for the match against Hibs on Sunday, still believes performances can move up a level when he has everyone available.
“This spark and this little bit of life that you guys talk about, it will come,” he said. “We’ve got really good players here and we’ll keep improving and working hard and that spark will come.
“But it’ll certainly come quicker if we can find that settled team, and we can keep our main players fit and available.”
And if, when they are fit and available, they get themselves in better form.