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‘I’M FEELING PAIN,’ ADMITS GERRARD AFTER PLAYERS SNUB

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SHELL-SHOCKED Steven Gerrard admitted he was at his “lowest” since joining Rangers following their 1-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final loss to Hearts at Tynecastle last night.

And the Ibrox gaffer revealed he hadn’t even spoken to his players after the shattering setback that could see the club complete another season without a trophy.

Oliver Bozanic struck in the second-half for the only goal of a tense confrontation where the relegation-threatened Edinburgh outfit made the best chances against hesitant visitors.

Gers reached the Europa League last-16 on Wednesday after a superb 1-0 triumph over Braga in Portugal to advance on a 4-2 aggregate score.

But they never came anywhere close to their European heroics with just one shot on target in the capital when Bobby Zlamal pushed aside a Ryan Kent drive as the Govan outfit tried desperately to claw their way back into the contest.

Gerrad, speaking to Sky Sports News, said: “I’m very disappointed. It’s the lowest I’ve felt since I’ve come to the club by a long way. The performance was nowhere near good enough.

“On Thursday, I was the proudest man in Europe by a long way because to a man the players were outstanding.

“Everything we’ve worked on for nearly two years, I could see it. I was proud as punch. It was an incredible performance.

“Today, for 90 minutes, I didn’t recognise anything, so I’m feeling really, really low and disappointed.”

After the latest loss, Gerrard was asked what he’d said to his players and he revealed he hadn’t even spoken to them.

He said: “I haven’t been in with the players, it’s not the right time for me to go in with the players. I stayed with my staff, I’ve just been chatting to my staff.

“We got what we deserved, I thought we were second best for the majority of the game.”

Without Alfredo Morelos due to a breach of club discipline, the reverse means Rangers are likely to extend their miserable run without a major domestic trophy to nine years.

The dejected Gers gaffer continued: “I’m not sure we realised the importance of this game and the opportunity we had to go to Hampden.

“It seems when we’re the underdog and there’s not much pressure, we’re fantastic.

“When there’s expectation to go to a tricky place to win, we have problems.”

In December, the Liverpool legend agreed a contract extension until 2024, having led the team to their highest points total since returning to the Premiership in 2016.

Gerrard, though, hinted he will now assess his future, questioning his players’ attitude after the second defeat at the same venue since the turn of the year.

He has also witnessed Kilmarnock coming back to beat his team 2-1 at Rugby Park while four crucial league points have been squandered in draws with Aberdeen (0-0) and St Johnstone (2-2).

He added: “The plan was to have a day off tomorrow. I need to think hard about where we’re at as a group.

“I need to do some real serious thinking over the next 24 and 48 hours.

“I’m feeling pain right now. I want to win here, I’m desperate to win here. Looking from the side today, I didn’t get the impression that the feeling amongst my players was the same.

“I’m not doubting myself. Me and my staff have given these players absolutely everything for 20 months and held their hand on and off the pitch.

“We’ve improved everything for them, but it’s tough when every other performance you feel the way you feel. I need to analyse myself, for sure.”

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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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