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Rangers boss Steven Gerrard reckons Europa League defeat to Progres Niederkorn makes FK Shkupi team talk easy

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard reckons Europa League defeat to Progres Niederkorn makes FK Shkupi team talk easy

AS HE watched it trail across Sky Sports' yellow bar, Steven Gerrard knew the result sending shockwaves around Europe would have serious ramifications for Rangers.

What he couldn't have ever imagined was Gers' humiliating loss to Progres Niederkorn would ultimately change the course of his own career.

Steven Gerrard speaks to the media
Willie Vass

Like everyone on the outside looking in, the Liverpool legend was stunned to see Gers crash out of the Europa League at this very stage just 12 months ago.

It was a shameful defeat from which manager Pedro Caixinha never recovered.

And it undoubtedly forced the Ibrox board to think big in terms of their next dugout appointment, setting the wheels in motion on a game-changing deal that would bring Gerrard to Ibrox.

One year on and the new Gers gaffer is preparing for his first competitive game in charge against Macedonian minnows FK Shkupi.

Josh Windass after the defeat to Progres Niederkorn
Keith Campbell - The Sun Glasgow

Yet far from feeling the pressure, Gerrard believes his first team talk is likely to be his easiest.

He said: "I remember the result coming across the yellow bar on Sky Sports News.

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"You were like, 'Woah, that's not going to go down well'.

"I certainly don't want to have that surprise on Thursday. The team talk is already done, someone did that for me 12 months ago.

"Seriously, this will probably be one of the easiest team talks I'll ever do.

"All I have to do is show them the faces from a year ago in the away leg and that's the team talk right there.

"If you're not ready to go and put that right, we have a serious problem here.

"It is more excitement for me. I have every confidence and belief in the players and the team that they can go out and do the job.

"I am not nervous or scared, I can't wait to walk out there and get the game going. The lads are really ready for it."

Despite the haunting nature of last year's horror exit at the hands of a little-known team from Luxemburg, Gerrard hopes the pain of Progres is still being felt right up until kick-off at a sold-out Ibrox.

Ex-Rangers star Kenny Miller in action against Progres Niederkorn
Keith Campbell - The Sun Glasgow

He added: "I hope it's in the back of their mind and I hope they are determined. They have to be.

"A club this size shouldn't lose games like that.

"We have to show this team respect and show the competition respect. There are no gimmies, no walkovers.

"We will approach the game right and show the level of intensity and desire that we have done in the friendly games.

"If we do that, then I am sure we won't have a problem."

Should Rangers progress, they are likely to face Croatians NK Osijek in the next qualifying round.

Yet Gerrard is refusing to look beyond the tie against Shkupi.

Gerrard oversees Rangers training
Willie Vass

He said: "Other people will judge it and consider what success is.

"My job is to get us through to the next round and that is my priority at the moment.

"We're not sure who we are going to be facing if we progress further down the competition, so there is no point putting any targets on it.

"We'll take it one stage at a time.

"I think that was probably part of the problem last year, being drawn against a team from Luxembourg and thinking, 'Who have we got in the next round and what is happening there?'

"All of a sudden, bang. There is the slap in the face for you.

"We are not good enough at the moment to take our foot off the gas or be complacent or be enjoying ourselves.

"We have tonnes of work to do, tonnes of improvement, before we can be relaxed and pick and choose when we turn up.

Jordan Rossiter is out injured again
Keith Campbell - The Sun Glasgow

"I don't expect any complacency and if I see it in any individuals, I won't be happy."

James Tavernier will skipper a new-look Gers side after Gerrard confirmed the full-back as his captain earlier this week.

Gerrard said: "When you select a captain, you look at all kinds of different aspects.

"The first one is obviously the player. Is he capable of finding the consistency to handle playing well every week for Rangers?

"I think he is certainly one who has come out with credit in terms of the tough few years here.

"Every time I have watched him, he's been Rangers' stand-out player, and watching him in the last few weeks he ticks every box.

"It was important the captain had been around and been through the highs and the lows. I didn't want to select someone who was new."

Meanwhile, Gerrard confirmed Jordan Rossiter is set for another spell on the sidelines after picking up an ankle injury.

Yet it's hoped the midfielder's latest setback will only keep him sidelined for a few weeks.

Gerrard revealed: "He got an unfortunate knock in training.

"Up to that point he was probably our standout performer of pre-season. He was absolutely flying.

"It wasn't one where you can say, 'He is injured again'. It was just an unlucky block."

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Football – The Scottish Sun...

This article is correct as of the time of publishing at July 11, 2018 at 10:30PM.

Tap the Read Article button below to visit the source article directly on their website.

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