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Gerrard warns Rangers will need to be switched on when Europa League starts

By June 20, 2018No Comments

Steven Gerrard has warned his Rangers side to focus or face further humiliation in the Europa League this season.

Gers kick off the Steven Gerrard era at Ibrox against Macedonian side FK Shkupi on July 12 before making the return trip a week later after the qualification draw was made on Wednesday.

The Light Blues suffered a humiliating defeat to Luxembourg minnows Progres Niederkorn under former boss Pedro Caixinha last year, and Gerrard is adamant the same mistakes will not be made again this season.

“The message to the players will be to focus on the first game,” he told RangersTV. “But I don’t think it will be a very difficult team-talk for that first qualifying round just because of what happened last year.

“The team and the squad were very complacent and went out at that stage, so the team-talk is already done really.

“It is very important we stay focused and show this team huge respect as they have earned the right to be here and have the chance to play against Rangers.

“Rangers themselves are a draw and a cup final for anyone. It is a shop-window for all of their players and they will be desperate to knock us out like the team did last year.”

The clash with Shkupi is the first step on the route to what the club hopes will be the Europa League group stages, with Petrocub of Moldova or Osijek of Croatia possible opponents in the second round.

Gerrard though, is happy with how the draw went.

He said: “I am very excited to be involved in the draw and to have that opportunity to try and qualify for the Europa League.

“I am sure all the players want to be on that stage and have that platform for their own personal careers, so it is a good draw for us and a good test being drawn at home first and I am really excited to get in front of the Ibrox crowd for real, and hopefully we will get a good result to set us up for the away leg.

“We want to play in Europe. This club belongs in Europe, but first and foremost, we have to go and qualify, and the new players we bring in here; that chat is always on the agenda.

“They want to play in Europe and I want to coach in Europe. All the fans want big nights at Ibrox, and also have the opportunity to go away and support the team.

“We are not going to play it down, it is very important and we want to be in that group stage, but it’s each step at a time.”