DEJECTED Steven Gerrard has admitted Rangers’ European ambitions will be wrecked if his ropey rearguard continue to present the opposition with goals.
The Ibrox boss predicts disaster on Wednesday when he takes his team to Portugal to defend a slender 3-2 advantage in the Europa League after last week’s dramatic comeback from two goals adrift.
However, the defence was ruthlessly exposed again in the 2-2 draw with St Johnstone in Perth yesterday to send Gerrard’s side tumbling 12 points adrift of Celtic at the top of the Premiership. They still have a game in hand, but the Hoops now have a massive lead on goal difference of 20.
The Govan gaffer has winced as he has witnessed defeats against Hearts and Kilmarnock as well as draws with Aberdeen and now the Saints since returning from the winter break.
RED ALERT…Florian Kamberi is congratulated by Joe Aribo after his leveller against Saints.
An early strike from Callum Hendry and a late equaliser from Stevie May – both following shocking back-four blunders with Nikola Katic the main culprit – cancelled out second-half efforts from on-loan Hibs attacker Florian Kamberi and Joe Aribo.
Gerrard, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “At times, you have to accept that teams will get some joy against you, but for St Johnstone to get the joy they did against us was just too easy.
“If we defend like that against Braga we haven’t got a chance, that is for sure.
“I am going to play the same record for you. I should be sitting here waxing lyrical about Flo Kamberi and Joe Aribo and maybe Alfredo Morelos if he took his chance to put us 3-1 in front.
“From an attacking point of view, we were outstanding in the second-half, but we keep shooting ourselves in the foot by conceding silly, silly goals.
“We’ve forgotten the really good, strong basics of defending and it has cost us on two occasions in this game and nearly three, only for Allan McGregor to pull off a world-class save.
“I’m frustrated and concerned with us defensively because it has happened too many times now. That’s Aberdeen, Killie, Braga, Hearts and now St Johnstone. That is too many times for this football club. I’m not shocked or surprised with the outcome of the game because it’s happened too many times of late. I am going to have to find solutions.”
SAINTS AND SINNERS…Stevie May (extreme left) races away as the Gers defence looks on after his goal to make it 2-2.
PROVING A POINT…delighted Steve May is overjoyed after his late leveller.
Gerrard added: “We’re basically just not doing the basics of defending well enough. It is difficult to defend that kind of defending because it costs the team goals.
“We got off to the worst possible start, which can happen from time to time. I am not saying we always have to be perfect, but it was a silly goal to concede.
“We then did ever so well to reset ourselves and got back in the game with some quality attacking play. Flo’s first goal was a world-class finish and then with a bit of skill on the side he completely flipped the game with individual brilliance to set up Joe.
“From the sidelines, you hope there is enough experience and quality to see the game out, but, again, we got the basics of defending wrong. It is really frustrating.
“There have been times this season where I have stood on the side and thought: ‘Fair play, that is a real world-class strike or a real good bit of play. Fair play, I hold my hand up’.
“But with these goals, teams are not cutting us to pieces. We are not being killed by individual brilliance. It is us who are shooting ourselves in the foot.
“It is my job to make sure that stops as quickly as I can. But I feel like I am playing the same record, certainly since we have come back after Christmas.”