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‘TEAM TALK WAS DONE A YEAR AGO,’ GERRARD

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STEVEN GERRARD has told his Rangers players he does not want to be on the receiving end of a shock European result tonight.

The 38-year-old rookie boss is preparing his team for his first competitive game in management when they take on Macedonian outfit Shkupi at Ibrox in the first leg of their Europa League campaign.

But Gerrard recalled last year when the scoreline came through from Luxembourg that informed him Progres Niederkorn had beaten Pedro Caixinha’s Rangers side 2-0 to go through 2-1 on aggregate.

The Liverpool legend said: “I remember it coming across the yellow bar on Sky Sports News. You were like: ‘Woah, that’s not going to go down well’.

“I certainly don’t want to have that surprise this evening at quarter to 11, certainly not. I hope it is in the back of their mind and I hope they are determined. They have to be.

“A club this size shouldn’t lose games of football like that. We have to show this team respect and show the competition respect.

“There are no gimmes, no walkovers. We will approach the game right and show the level of intensity and desire we have done in the friendly games. If we do I am sure we won’t have a problem.

“I have every confidence and belief in the players that they can go out and do the job. The team talk is already done, someone did that for me 12 months ago.

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

“We want the crowd to get right behind the team for the full 90 minutes and really get after that. We are at home.

“We have spoken about what we want to make Ibrox this year, we have spoken about standards and consistency, so I expect the team to come out firing in the early stages.

“We are not good enough at the moment to take our foot off the gas or be complacent or be enjoying ourselves. We have got tons of work to do, tons of improvement, before we can be relaxed and pick and choose when we turn up.

“I’m not expecting any complacency and if I see it in any individuals, I won’t be happy. My job is to get us through to the next round and that is my priority at the moment.”

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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