Rangers might have fallen short on the domestic front last season, but one of the biggest positives for Gerrard was getting into the Europa League group stages. The Gers cleared four gruelling round of qualifiers and were fighting till their final game to get out of the group stage as well.
However, many believed that Gerrard could have concentrated more on the league games instead of concentrating on the Europa League. They were anyways unlikely to go a long way in that tournament. Recently, Gerrard was asked about this approach, and he had this to say (Daily Record).
What did Gerrard say?
“I understand the opinion of ex-players, the media and fans saying the league is the priority. But come a European night at Ibrox in front of 50,000 fans, if I put a weakened side out what are people going to say about me? If I toss off the League Cup, what are people going to say about me? If I give up the Scottish Cup, what are people going to say?
“My job is to get a squad capable of trying to compete with what’s in front of us. There’s no getting away from the fact the league’s the priority. But we’re going to give everything in the other competitions as well. The Europa League definitely had an impact last season. In terms of how many points it cost us in the league? It’s impossible to say.”
Is Gerrard right in his approach?
The fans will indeed feel cheated if the club doesn’t give their all in other competitions, but Gerrard needs to be smart in protecting his key players for certain games. A lot of this problem could be solved if there is enough depth in the squad and the players waiting on the bench aren’t far off from first team players.
However, Rangers fans cannot imagine Celtic pulling off 9 Premiership titles in a row. Maybe the fans can be more understanding than what Gerrard feels at the moment as the league should be the utmost priority for the next season. We think that if the manager has a crucial Europa League game followed by a league game which will allow them to take the lead over Celtic or close down the gap, then not many fans would complain if the English manager fields a weakened side in Europa League. Realistically, the club isn’t playing for anything but reputation and bit of money in Europe.
However, something like this will continue to divide opinions among the fans and pundits alike. We are on the side that Gerrard shouldn’t risk important players for Europe if they are say 70-80 percent fit and save them for Premiership games instead.