Rangers’ slump in form has been challenging, says boss Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard admits he is facing one of his most difficult periods in football – but believes he and his Rangers team could ultimately use their domestic slump to their advantage.

Rangers lost against the then Ladbrokes Premiership bottom club twice in five days, following a William Hill Scottish Cup exit against Hearts with a home defeat by Hamilton.

When asked if this was the most challenging week of his professional career, Gerrard said: “The whole 20 months has been challenging but, of course, when results are not good enough in a short space of time, there’s more heat and more pressure on myself, which I accept.

“In many ways, yeah, it probably has been challenging, but even when we were winning, this job is challenging because you have got to do everything you can to continue that.

“This is one of the most challenging jobs out there. I knew that and it hasn’t disappointed.”

The week has not been out of keeping with Rangers’ year. Since putting themselves two points off the top of the league with a long-awaited victory at Celtic Park on December 29, they have dropped 13 points in nine league games to find themselves the same distance behind the leaders.

Gerrard admitted his dressing room was “short of confidence” after the midweek defeat by Accies, and he knows he faces a fight to sort his players’ mentality.

“It’s a battle for sure,” he said. “We are on the back of some real low performances and results. Where we stand at the moment it is an uphill battle.

“But you know, I like a battle. I’m game for a battle and I know my players are.

“Big picture, when we get through it I think we will look back at this period and use it to our advantage and go ‘you know, we have been there, we don’t want to go back there’. And we will work even harder to not go back there.

“It is a battle but I see it as a challenge. Would I prefer us to be in top form right now and everything flying and be smiling here and happy? Of course.”

Gerrard has himself questioned his players’ mentality at times, but they have shown the required resilience in the Europa League by coming from two goals down to beat Braga 4-2 on aggregate and set up a last-16 clash with Bayer Leverkusen.

“In certain games we can’t defend ourselves in terms of when questions are asked of us,” said the former Liverpool captain, whose team travel to Dingwall to take on Ross County on Sunday.

“But seven days ago I thought our mentality was out of this world, beyond belief. The mental strength that we had to put into both of those games over the week blew me away.

“I know the mentality is there, I know it will return. When you are at a low point, individually and collectively, we all have to pull our sleeves up and take that heat and that criticism and use it to your advantage.

“What you do is you strip it back and go back to basics, and the first thing you can do, which should be non-negotiable at this club, is work hard. Work your socks off. Work even harder than you think you can.

“If you get that collective response, everything else normally falls into place from there.”