VETERAN hitman Jermain Defoe is backing Steven Gerrard to complete his mission at Rangers.
And the 37-year-old striker also refused to criticise his fellow-attacker Alfredo Morelos who was dropped from the weekend match squad by the manager.
In the aftermath of the 1-0 Scottish Cup loss against Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday night, Gerrard, clearly shocked and disappointed, revealed he would be assessing everything in the coming days – including his future at Ibrox.
Defoe, who has agreed a one-year extension at the club with his 18-month loan deal from Bournemouth ending in the summer, backed his former England international team-mate and told the Daily Record: “Of course, he is the right man to take the club forward.
“To get to the last 16 in Europe is an unbelievable achievement. It is just a case of the team being consistent, which is probably the hardest thing to do in football.
UNDER PRESSURE…Steven Gerrard feels the pain.
“But the top teams do it game after game – being consistent and putting in those top performances.
“At times, like Wednesday night, you look at the team and think: ‘That’s a top team and a strong squad’.
“Then we come here and let ourselves down. We let the manager down.”
Defoe continued: “It is easy when you win and everyone is together and buzzing.
“It is important now, as a group, that we stick together no matter what happens. That is all you can do.
“It is hard for me to say what the manager is thinking. But I can imagine how he is feeling because this is a club where you have to perform, win games and win trophies.
“That sort of pressure is the reality and that’s an opportunity gone to get our first trophy together, so everyone is disappointed.
“It is the same for everyone in there. We will go away together, watch the game again then go from there.”
Defoe could do little from the bench with 25 minutes left as Gers were left chasing the game after Oliver Bozanic had put Daniel Stendel’s men into the lead.
MISSING IN ACTION…Alfredo Morelos who sat out the Cup exit.
The frontman also vowed to keep faith with AWOL striker Alfredo Morelos who missed the downfall in the capital after being disciplined by Gerrard.
The controversial Colombian was axed from the match squad after reporting home a day late from a trip to Colombia.
Defoe added: “It is a difficult one for me to sit here and talk about Alfredo.
“With something so personal, I just feel it is better to keep it in the dressing room.
“I am not going to sit here and criticise one of our players because, at the end of the day, he is my friend. I don’t think he would do that to me.
“Away from all of that, we were focused on the game and we came to Tynecastle confident from midweek.
“Alfredo didn’t play on Wednesday night and the performance was one of our best – especially away from home.”