STEVEN GERRARD has promised to lead Rangers back into Europe as a stronger force next season.

The Ibrox boss saw his side topple 1-0 to Rapid Vienna in Austria last night to end their bid for a place in the Europa League knock-out stages.

The Liverpool legend’s team needed a victory in the Allianz Stadion and came close when Connor Goldson hit the bar with a first-half header, but they crashed to an 84th-minute winner from Dejan Ljubcic.

Rapid and Spanish outfit Villarreal won through from Group G to take their place in Monday’s draw.

Gerrard, who confirmed he will hold talks with “unsettled” on-loan Liverpool midfielder Ovie Ejaria about his future at the club, said: “I think once we analyse the whole journey, we will certainly take ourselves back to Moscow at home, 0-0, a couple of chances we missed.

“We’ll take ourselves back to Moscow away when we scored a perfectly good goal which was disallowed. We will also analyse our individual mistakes within it.

“We could have put ourselves in a better position, but it wasn’t to be. I think if you analyse the whole journey the players have done fantastically well, but the reality is that, at this level, we fell a bit short.

“It’s my job to try and address that. But what I will say is we will come again — definitely. It’s important now that we get back to winning ways domestically and we focus domestically now to put ourselves in a position to come back again.

“I thought we were good for 80 minutes against Rapid. I can’t really ask the players to give any more from what we had available tonight. We gave an almighty effort.

“Obviously, as the game was getting to the final stages we were trying to roll the dice and be more adventurous to try and create something, create that moment we needed at 0-0.

“Unfortunately, we’ve conceded a counter-attack, but it’s very hard for me to criticise the players for what they gave.”

Gerrard added: “In terms of numbers, I think we have had enough to cope. But to compete at this level, with ambitions to go further than the group, it’s obvious to me that the players need some help.

“That means obviously quality players that can come in and help.

“The idea now is to park the Europa League and really focus on the league. I think we have had a tough week and I think the support we’ve had during that tough week has been really good.

“I think we owe the fans a reaction against Hamilton on Sunday.”

Ejaria did not travel to Austria and could have played his last game for Gers amid suggestions he has become disillusioned with life in Scotland.

Asked if the 21-year-old would return to Anfield, Gerrard replied: “I think it’s something I need to discuss with Ovie in the coming days. I had a chat with him a few days ago. He is slightly unsettled.

“Liverpool are aware of the situation and we are in dialogue with them.”

Gerrard also confirmed Roma striker Umar Sadiq has now left Ibrox after a disastrous loan spell.


About Author


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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