STEVEN GERRARD admits the margin of victory over Bury took him by surprise on a highly enjoyable first game in charge at Ibrox Stadium.
Gerrard, who saw his new-look side cruise to a 6-0 win over the English outfit on Friday night found numerous positives from the victory, although he has now challenged his players to find a level of consistency ahead of their Europa League clash with Shkupi tomorrow night.
Speaking exclusively to RangersTV, the manager said: “I expected us to win the game, but I didn’t expect it to be so one-sided – it could have been 10 or 11 quite comfortably. But, I knew I was standing on the side watching 11 players who are desperate to impress, while I also had 11 players sat behind me who were giving me daggers as I hadn’t put them in from the start.
“At the moment, I have the players where I want them to be, and the challenge is going to be for us to find consistency. At the beginning, when everyone is trying to impress, I wouldn’t say it is easy, but you know you have the players in the right place and the challenge for me is to keep them there for a long time.
“I loved it from a personal point of view. I have waited quite a while to walk out at Ibrox in front of the supporters, and the turnout for that game was incredible, and they got behind the team from start to finish, so it was a great night for everyone.
“The most important thing is we came away from the game with a lot of positives. A lot of what we have been working on – in possession and out of possession – came out in our performance. When we debriefed the game, there weren’t many negatives either, which for a manager, is a great sign.
“I think we are quite fortunate that everything is new, so natural to that, there is a buzz about the fans and an expectation – they are now waiting for us. But, I have made it very clear to the players that we cannot waste these opportunities to get the fans behind us.
“They have been through a tough time and there has been a lot of stick flying in the direction of the players. But, with myself and the new staff coming in, it is almost like a clean slate for the players that were here previously, and they can’t let this opportunity pass them by.
“The fans are with us, and you could see that the other night and we have sold-out the first European game, so they want to come and they are ready to come with us. But we have to accept that expectation and pressure that comes with that, and therefore play with responsibility. We did that against Bury, but the challenges are about to get a lot, lot harder.”
Gerrard knows Rangers will face a step up against Shkupi and other sides in the coming weeks and months, but again, he reiterated some of the positives he has seen from his side in the Bury game and from pre-season.
He added: “I think the fans will have gone away from the game thinking we were organised, thinking we are going to press hard and high at home and try to win the ball back in interesting areas. We know we can do that with the talent and the attacking players we have got and we should be an exciting team to watch.
“At the same time, the tests are about to get more difficult so maybe we won’t win as many balls, but the challenge is – can we do it?”