Steven Gerrard has told Rangers’s official website that his side could be in trouble if they start against Porto like they did in the 1-1 draw with Hearts on Sunday.
The Gers blew the chance to return to the top of the Scottish Premiership. In truth, it is difficult to argue with those who believe that Rangers were fortunate to take a point from Tynecastle.
Hearts took the lead after six minutes – having already hit the crossbar before that. Alfredo Morelos equalised shortly before the break. But Rangers did not kick on after the equaliser, and it was the home side asking more questions in the latter stages of the contest.
It was a performance that has brought Rangers back down to earth. They had been top of the table heading into the international break, and now have a real point to prove.
And Gerrard warned his players that they cannot start again as they did on Sunday, insisting that it was some of the worst football he has seen during his time at Ibrox.
“To get a result there, we are going to have to compete and do a lot of dirty work, fight and really work so hard for each other and be in the right frame of mind,” he told the club’s official website. “Otherwise, if we start the game like we did today, we could be in trouble. But, any game of football before a ball is kicked, you have got to go out and be ready from the start.
“The opening five minutes today is the worst I’ve seen us.”
Sunday’s performance could actually prove extremely beneficial come Thursday. If there was any complacency, that has surely evaporated. And Rangers now know exactly how difficult their trip to Portugal will be.
Rangers now need to put the kind of run together that leaves them reflecting on how important it was that they took a point from Hearts when they were short of their best. Gerrard may not be happy, but avoiding defeat when not at the races is often held up as a trait of title contenders.