James Tavernier pleads with Steven Gerrard to fight on as Rangers boss
Please don’t go! Rangers captain James Tavernier pleads with Steven Gerrard to fight on as Ibrox boss despite Scottish Cup exit and collapse in title race against Celtic
- James Tavernier says Rangers players want Steven Gerrard to remain as boss
- Rangers are having a torrid time after losing to Hearts in the Scottish Cup
- They are also well adrift of rivals Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership
James Tavernier insists Rangers’ players want Steven Gerrard to battle on as manager.
Describing Saturday’s Scottish Cup exit to Hearts as the lowest point of his managerial career, Gerrard vowed to do ‘some real, serious thinking’ after another faltering domestic display left him staring at a second trophy-less season.
And, speaking after Oliver Bozanic’s winner fired Hearts into the Scottish Cup semi-finals, the Ibrox boss offered a cryptic response to questions over his own future. On Sunday night, sources close to the former England captain told Sportsmail that he is not giving serious thought to walking away from his first managerial post.
Steven Gerrard is having a tough time, after Rangers were dumped out of the Cup by Hearts
James Tavernier has insisted that the Rangers players want to see Gerrard continue as boss
The Liverpool icon recently signed an extended contract, which takes him up until 2024, and he has guided his side to the last 16 of the Europa League.
Admitting the Rangers players have let their manager down, captain Tavernier said: ‘The gaffer has given everything to the boys and we have not delivered two seasons in a row.
‘We were unlucky in the League Cup final against Celtic — but we have now been knocked out in this competition in the quarter-finals for a second season.
‘The league was in our hands but we have now given ourselves a mountain to climb.
‘We have lost it again, so we are going to look at ourselves as the gaffer has given us everything.
‘We want him to be here, definitely. He has driven the standards right up and, if selected by him, we have to deliver.’
Oliver Bozanic (centre) was Hearts’ hero with his strike in the second half proving decisive
Gerrard omitted Alfredo Morelos from his matchday squad after the top scorer returned 24 hours late from a spell of compassionate leave in Colombia.
The 23-year-old will be fined for his actions, with an apology to team-mates and fans likely.
With on-loan Florian Kamberi cup-tied and Jermain Defoe on the bench after injury, Greg Stewart started up front at Tynecastle on Saturday.
Unable to muster a shot on target until the 65th minute, however, Rangers surrendered their hopes of winning the last domestic trophy of the season in feeble fashion.
‘We are devastated,’ added Tavernier. ‘The lads are finding it hard to swallow.
‘We have let the club down, the fans down, the gaffer down and ourselves down. Going from such a high during the week against a very good (Braga) team to failing to answer questions at a place where we have struggled during the season.
Rangers are also far adrift of arch rivals Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership
‘We have not produced a performance good enough to put us into the semi-final.
‘This has happened two years in a row now as we were knocked out by Aberdeen last year.
‘It has happened again this year and it is hard to take.’
Since returning from the winter break, Gerrard’s side have now lost three and drawn two of their 13 games.
Their league hopes faded after falling 12 points behind Celtic, with Tavernier adding: ‘I don’t know what it comes down to.
Rangers have now lost three and drawn two of their 13 games since the winter break ended
‘We proved we can do it in midweek but in the second part of the season we have lacked consistency.
‘Since the break, we have let ourselves down too many times and this is another one.’
Gerrard has questioned the mental strength of his team under pressure, querying whether they share his desperation to win games and trophies.
‘It is clear as day the mental strength wasn’t there,’ Tavernier acknowledged.
‘We didn’t back it up with a performance. There is not much I can say on that. We can only show we have it by winning games. Clearly, we didn’t show it enough against Hearts.
‘In the past, we have shown it in certain games. When Hearts sniffed blood from the get go, we struggled to deal with it. The first half of the season when teams dropped off us, we were scoring five or six goals.
‘And then we come to the second part of the season. We are not gritty enough and able to see out games.
Rangers are still in the Europa League, and will face Bayer Leverkusen in the last 16
‘We knew what was coming. You need to grab it with both hands and respond to it.
‘But I don’t think we tested the keeper once in the entire game. I don’t think he even had a shot to save.
‘It was not good enough from the team in general.’
A home clash with Hamilton in the Premiership on Wednesday night offers an opportunity to steady the ship before an away trip to Ross County and the visit of Bayer Leverkusen.
‘We really need to look hard at ourselves,’ said the skipper.
‘We need to sit down together and see what the answers are.
‘It has happened too many times and we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves. We need to show the gaffer and the fans how much it means to us.’
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