STEVEN GERRARD praised his Rangers squad for their ‘almighty effort’ as they ultimately fell short against Rapid Vienna tonight.
Needing a win to progress, Gers went 1-0 down with six minutes left and couldn’t recover to see them knocked-out of the Europa League at the group stage.
It has been some run for Gers so far this season, and Gerrard told tonight’s press conference: “I thought we were good for 80 minutes, and what we had available tonight, I thought everyone gave an almighty effort.
“Obviously as the game was getting to the final stages we were trying to roll the dice and get a little more adventurous to try and create something to get that moment we needed at 0-0, and unfortunately, we’ve conceded a counter attack.
“But I think it is very hard for me to criticise the players for what they gave tonight. I felt we played very well for large parts of this game today and the players deserve incredible praise for taking this group to the wire.
“I believe if we were full-strength tonight, the situation might have been a little bit easier. But to come here against a good team and an organised team who were fit, very mobile and have experience at this level, I think what we had was just a little bit short.
“The idea now is to park the Europa League up and really focus on the league. We have had a tough couple of weeks, and I think the support we have had through that tough couple of weeks has been really good and I think we owe the fans a reaction on Sunday.”
Gerrard was asked about the Spartak Moscow matches, and the 0-0 home draw and 4-3 away loss if they had ultimately cost the Light Blues, and he responded: “I think once we analyse the whole journey, we will certainly take ourselves back to maybe Moscow at home, 0-0, and a couple of the chances we missed, and we’ll take ourselves back to Moscow away when we scored a perfectly good goal, but we will also analyse our individual mistakes within it.
“We could have put ourselves in a better position tonight, but it wasn’t to be. I think if you analyse the journey as a whole, the players have done fantastically well, but the reality is, at this level, we’ve fallen a little bit short, and that is my job to try and address that.
“What I will say, is we will come again and it is important now we get back to winning ways domestically and we focus domestically to put ourselves in the position to come back again.”
The manager was also quizzed if the number of games had taken its toll on the squad, and he replied: “We have certainly been tested. I think as a group we haven’t helped ourselves in certain situations with suspensions and availability, and obviously injuries a bit at important times, i.e. Ryan Kent at the weekend.
“To not have Candeias and Kent available, it affects the group. I think in terms of numbers we have had enough to cope, but I think at this level, with ambitions to go further in the group, it is obvious to me the players need some help.
“That means, obviously quality players that can come in and help them.”