Graham Ruthven: Steven Gerrard must leave behind Rangers’ victim complex

Our Scottish football boffin Graham Ruthven looks at why Steven Gerrard needs to move his Rangers outfit away from feeling so hard done by…


Steven Gerrard wasted no time in voicing his disgruntlement to the fourth official on the touchline.

In his eyes, Ryan Jack had been barged off the ball in the build up to what proved to be Celtic’s winning goal in Sunday’s Old Firm derby against Rangers.

He didn’t exactly cool off before the post-match press conference either, claiming that referee Willie Collum had cost his side dearly.

“For me, it’s a foul,” the Rangers boss said. “And it’s also a foul for the fourth official who is shouting down his mic ‘Foul, foul, foul.’ The referee in the middle has ignored that advice, but for me it’s a blatant foul. He’s sweeped his legs.”

He might have had a point. Jack probably should have been awarded a free kick for a foul by Tom Rogic immediately before Celtic launched the counter attack that led to Olivier Ntcham’s goal.

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Gerrard overlooked how Allan McGregor also could have been sent off for an off-the-ball kick out at Kristoffer Ajer, but when it came to the decisive goal, the moment the game hinged on, there was a case to be made.

It was a similar story in the opening game of the Scottish Premiership season, when Rangers were reduced to 10 men early on against Aberdeen.

Alfredo Morelos’ red card was ultimately rescinded, but not before Gerrard had made some pointed comments about Rangers’ misfortune with regards to refereeing decisions.

“It’s not just today, I believe it’s been happening for seasons,” the former Liverpool captain said after that particular decision, feeding into the conspiracies spun by certain factions of the Rangers support.

Then there was the double sending off of Morelos and Jon Flanagan in last week’s Europa League qualifier away to FC Ufa, leaving Rangers with short of their full compliments for the majority of the match.

The Ibrox side still managed to grind out a result, but in the eyes of Gerrard and the club’s fans, this was another case of refereeing injustice against Rangers.

All this has led to something of a victim complex. Rangers have been on the wrong end of some poor decisions this season, but this rhetoric of victimhood does nothing to help their cause. Gerrard isn’t just charged with assembling and coaching a team at Ibrox, but overhauling the culture of the club as well.

Rangers have struggled with a mindset of inferiority over the past two seasons with the clearest manifestation of this coming in the Old Firm derby defeats meted out to them by Celtic.

Playing the victim so publicly, even when you are the victim, only deepens this sense of inferiority and if Rangers are to topple Celtic at the top of the Scottish game they must eradicate this.

Gerrard might make the argument that his comments help to forge a siege mentality at Rangers.

This is a tactic used to great effect over the years by the likes of Jose Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola. But there is a difference between a siege mentality and a victim complex.

Rangers, at present, are suffering from the latter.

Behind closed doors, Gerrard is surely focussing instead on how his team were largely outplayed by Celtic on Sunday. The scoreline might have finished only 1-0, but Brendan Rodgers’ side were on top for the 90 minutes, also striking the woodwork three times.

On another day, Rangers could have suffered another thumping at the hands of their closest rivals.

Significant progress has been made at Rangers since Gerrard’s appointment in the summer, but Sunday’s Old Firm derby underlined just how much more progress is still to be made. This must encompass the club’s off the field manner too.

Gerrard might be justified in feeling that Rangers have so far received a rough deal from referees, but the proliferation of this narrative only hinders his team further.

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