Rangers captain James Tavernier has branded his side’s performance in the Viaplay Cup final defeat to Celtic as “unacceptable” and apologised to the club’s supporters.
A Kyogo Furuhashi double put Celtic in control in the Hampden final before Alfredo Morelos pulled a goal back for Rangers but the Ibrox side couldn’t find an equaliser and had to watch their rivals lift the first silverware of the season.
A dejected Tavernier admitted his side were second best for large parts of the game and expressed his disappointment at how the game had played out.
“First and foremost, I have to apologise to the fans,” the full-back said.
“It was an unacceptable performance from ourselves. The first half wasn’t good enough and we know that. Also conceding before half time, you give yourself more to do.
“Then we concede a second but got a goal, create another good chance but then wasted enough time in the game to react and that’s the most disappointing factor.
“We know what to expect but as a team we have to show up on the day. I felt like we didn’t do that for large parts of the game. We all have to look in the mirror and be honest with each other.”
The defender didn’t identify the reasons behind a lacklustre first half in particular but was clear that his side “didn’t deliver” against a Celtic team that hit their stride quickly.
“I think there were a lot of things,” he said. “We didn’t get close enough and we didn’t impact our football like we wanted to. It gives you a hill to climb.
“You obviously get a bit of belief when Alfredo scores and you create more chances but you can’t give away that much time in a game to get yourself back in it.
“Like I said, it’s the first defeat under the gaffer. We’ve been getting the results that we wanted to but today, when it matters, we didn’t. So we know there’s a lot of work to be done and we have to deliver on the training pitch.
“But we have to deliver every day and we didn’t today.”
‘Emotions are high’
Tavernier revealed that there had been strong words in the dressing room at Hampden after the defeat and said that there would be further discussions about the performance in the days to some.
“I’ve had my words in there,” the Rangers captain said. “I’m not going to go into too much detail but we’ve had an honest chat and we’ll have another chat during the week.
“Emotions are high so we’ll have a chat then.
“It’s obviously important [to try and lift spirits]. Everyone in there knows that we’ve let a lot of people down. That’s the one that hurts, that we let so many people down in a manner that we didn’t want to.
“Come through the week we’ll have our chats and we’ll have our meetings. It’s a bit hard to get your words across now because there’s so much frustration, although obviously there were some words. With a calm head through the week we’ll go through a lot of things.”
Rangers will now get back to league business but remain nine points behind Celtic in the Premiership. The Scottish Cup offers another chance at success this season but Tavernier says the team just needs to deliver win after win.
“It’s the first defeat under the gaffer,” he said. “We’ve been getting the results that we wanted to but today, when it matters, we didn’t. So we know there’s a lot of work to be done and we have to deliver on the training pitch.
“But we have to deliver every day and we didn’t today.
“We’re Rangers Football Club. We have to win every single game, that’s the mentality.
“But you have to show up and we didn’t. We’ll be going to Kilmarnock and trying to get three points, win every game until the end of the season and see where it takes us.”
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