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EX-CELT INSISTS IT’S THE DAY OF RECKONING FOR GERRARD

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KRIS COMMONS insists Steven Gerrard is on thin ice as he gets ready for the Europa League encounter against Braga at Ibrox on Thursday night.

The former Celtic midfielder reckons the Liverpool legend will be forced to walk the gauntlet if they flop against the Portuguese visitors who prepared for the last-32 encounter with a first-ever Lisbon win over Benfica at the weekend.

Commons believes the pressure is mounting on the Ibrox boss with his team slipping 10 points behind his old club who are now zeroing in on a record-equalling ninth successive flag triumph.

Gers have failed to take their excellent form of late 2019 into this year and have dropped eight crucial points from a possible 21 while Neil Lennon’s men have a 100 per cent record.

A WORD IN YOUR EAR…Steven Gerrard passes on instructions to skipper James Tavernier.

Gerrard was accused of throwing his players under the bus after questioning their bottle following the 2-1 collapse against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park last week when they blew a half-time lead.

The England international legend hit back at his critics by insisting he had no regrets over his comments, as Scotzine reported.

Now, though, Commons, writing in his Daily Mail column, thinks the day of reckoning has arrived for Gerrard.

He said: “Rangers’ season is threatening to implode. Make no mistake, this is a tie which is laced with danger for Gerrard and his players.

“Listen, not for one second am I writing Rangers off. Some of Gerrard’s best results during his time at the club have come in European ties.

IN WITH A SHOUT…Gerrard yells from the touchline.

“There’s a clear sense that his team are better suited to European football. They can play it cagey on the counter far more than they can domestically, when the onus is on them to break down packed defences.

“But this is now a massive moment in their season. If they can get the better of Braga over two legs, it would inject some much-needed momentum back into the Ibrox camp.

“If they lose, though, the heat will be turned up considerably. Yeah, I understand that getting this far in Europe was always going to be viewed as a bonus by the majority of fans.

“But you have to view it all in context. Stopping Celtic’s march to nine in a row was always the priority, but the wheels have come off that particular wagon quite spectacularly.

THUMBS UP…Gerrard shows his pleasure at his team’s performance.

“If they then go and follow that with a weak European exit, particularly if they were to suffer a heavy aggregate defeat over the two legs, it would pile the pain on Gerrard.”

Former Scotland international midfielder Commons added: “He took responsibility for the defeat at Kilmarnock last week, but only to a degree. By questioning the mentality and bottle of his players, he did still effectively throw them under a bus.

“Gerrard is, ultimately, the man who signed them. If he has assembled a group of prima donnas who can’t handle the heat, then he’s as culpable as anyone else in all of this.

“For their season to unravel so dramatically for the second season on the spin, there is a sense that Gerrard is surviving purely on reputation at the moment.

“If it wasn’t such a high-profile figure in the hotseat, it would be getting to the stage now where fans would be hounding him out of the door.

HEAD DOWN…Gerrard is a man under pressure.

“There’s a lack of ideas in this Rangers team. They have become stale and one-dimensional. So, in that sense, a return to the European arena may offer them a chance to rediscover their spark.

“Gerrard spoke at the weekend of his admiration for Walter Smith, the old master who was able to coax an unfashionable Rangers team to the UEFA Cup final in 2008.

“He also spoke of his experiences under Rafa Benitez and Fabio Capello, another two of the game’s great tacticians whom he played under during his own career.

“It all points to Gerrard deploying a cagey approach against the Portuguese outfit. If it proves successful and he can extend this European run, it may yet prove to be his moment of salvation.”

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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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