STEVEN GERRARD has lauded his side’s ‘attitude and mentality’ after crushing St Joseph’s 4-0 in tonight’s Europa League qualifier.
Being held 0-0 at half-time, Ryan Jack, Sheyi Ojo, Borna Barisic and Alfredo Morelos made it a comfortable evening while handing the Light Blues a huge advantage to take to the second leg at Ibrox next week.
Speaking to RangersTV in the shadow of the Rock of Gibraltar, boss Gerrard said: “I thought we showed a fantastic attitude and mentality. These places are tough as you come here and conditions are tough, the pitch is tough and they put a lot of men behind the ball, try to break up play, make fouls and slow the game down.
“So a lot of things were against the team and they set us a challenge to go and beat the block, but I thought we showed fantastic patience and eventually we took one of our chances.
“The game, obviously, changes in our favour and we go on from there, build, and keep showing really good quality to go and finish the game off.
“We are going to face it a lot this season where teams are going to sit-in and make it difficult for us. It is important we show patience – if we had taken a chance earlier on in the first half, it might have been a little bit more enjoyable in the first half, but, you have to stay at it, keep pushing, keep grinding, keep probing and you are hoping one of your big players steps up and makes the difference, and again, Ryan Jack did that for us.
“We never want to come off the gas. I don’t think we are at a stage just yet this squad and this team where we can pick and choose where we turn on the gas, so I was very impressed that we kept passing the ball, we didn’t get bored and we kept trying to create chances and we kept searching for more goals.
“We got four tonight, but it possibly could have been a few more.”
From the bench, Gerrard was able to introduce Joe Aribo, Greg Stewart and Morelos, and that strength in depth is something which delights the manager.
He continued: “I am hoping over the course of the season that could be the difference. There were times last year, with all due respect, where if we had suspensions or a few injuries we never had that level of quality to bring on.
“But the reason why we have gone into the transfer market quite sharp was to add that quality and you saw the level of player we were bringing off the bench – Aribo was fantastic when we came on, Alfredo got his goal and Greg showed his quality as well. So all positive.”
Gerrard was also delighted to see Borna Barisic get off the mark as a Rangers player – though his strike caused a bit of debate in the changing room with Connor Goldson also trying to claim it!
“There was a bit of a debate in the dressing room but we’ve had it confirmed that it was definitely Borna’s goal,” said the manager.
“He’s got that technique in his locker – I’m sure he can go on and get more goals for us from those positions, so I’m pleased for him.
“He’s started pre-season well and he seems to be in a really strong place mentally and physically, so hopefully he will build on that.”