Rangers supporters have been making a lot of noise in recent times after seeing their side pick up their first victory of the Europa League group stages on Thursday night.
Steven Gerrard’s men went into their clash with Rapid Vienna at Ibrox off the back of drawing 2-2 in Villarreal in their opening group stage match, and thus seeking the victory that would put them in the driving seat for a place in the last-32. And while they fell behind in Glasgow on Thursday night, the Gers fought back admirably as a brace from Alfredo Morelos alongside a James Tavernier penalty sealed a 3-1 success for the Light Blues, thus moving them to top of Group G.
Thus, there have been many delighted Rangers fans up and down the country in recent times, and while several will be revelling in their team’s excellent victory, some are sure to be wondering how they can perform so well on Thursday night after such a woeful display at Livingston just a few days earlier.
And it may be indicative of a bigger problem Gerrard has yet to fix at Ibrox, with his team very much producing the goods on the European stage on a regular basis, but failing to replicate that in the Scottish Premiership week in, week out.
Yes, it must be noted that Rangers have thumped the likes of Dundee and St Johnstone in the league in recent times, so it’s not all bad news, but generally Gerrard’s men have performed better in their European campaign this term than they have in the Scottish Premiership.
The Gers are unbeaten in all ten of their European clashes in winning five and drawing the other five, while they have already suffered two losses in the league at the hands of bitter rivals Celtic at the start of September, and indeed Livingston only last weekend.
Both of those losses came on the road, and while they haven’t tasted victory away from home in the Europa League so far this term, they have drawn all five of those games and kept two clean sheets along the way – compare that with two points from four and six goals against in the Scottish Premiership on their travels.
Thus, while it is still early days in Gerrard’s tenure, it does appear as though the Gers are able to produce the goods on the European stage, but find it more difficult to do that in the bread-and-butter of the league campaign – sixth place after seven matches simply isn’t good enough for a side that harboured ambitions of a title push just a few weeks ago.
Are they a team for the big occasion? Quite possibly, but they were comfortably second-best against Celtic a few weeks ago in their biggest league game so far – and given the Bhoys’ own struggles at the start of this season, that was an opportunity missed by Gerrard’s men to really make a big statement of intent.
As such, while there can be little criticism of the start Gerrard has made at Ibrox, the Liverpool legend faces the big challenge in trying to translate his side’s excellent European form, form which has given a real chance of progression into the knockout stages, into their Scottish Premiership campaign, where they are already eight points adrift of leaders Hearts – that is the big problem Gerrard is yet to fix at Rangers.
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