STEVEN GERRARD has declared himself largely pleased with this afternoon’s friendly match with Blackburn Rovers.
Ending in a 1-1 draw, Gerrard picked two key aspects to take away from the game while also picking up on the usefulness of the test as Gers prepare to continue their run in the Europa League on Thursday.
He told RangersTV: “I thought it was a fantastic test for both teams, and speaking to their staff after the game, they welcomed the challenge from us and vice-versa.
“I thought it was a really interesting game where we edged the first half and I thought we were a lot better than we were in the second half.
“So we are pleased with a lot of the performance, though I thought we were a bit loose at times and we said to the players when the players and the levels rise – and the likes of Blackburn are a good team – if you are sloppy and the ball is turned over, then you will be punished.
“Going back to last season, and when we played the likes of Hibs, our mistakes were costly for us in the league campaign. So it was a similar story today when the ball was turned over, we paid for it.
“Pre-season games, first and foremost are to get fit and get your conditioning for the season. But at the same time, you try to rehearse and practice how you want it to look come the start of the season.
“So we will definitely take the positives from the game and, for the majority of the first half, we are really pleased.
“The two learning things I think I’ll take from the game is we need to take our chances to kill teams off and we can’t turn the ball over in dangerous areas as good players and good teams will punish you.”
Filip Helander came on in the second half for his first appearance in Light Blue, with the manager saying of him: “He is a week, maybe eight or nine days-in tops. So he still has two or three weeks to go before he is fully conditioned, but I think he was fine out there and there were no problems.
“Unfortunately the players around him didn’t help him today and when he has come on the pitch, we obviously conceded a goal.
“But it was nothing to do with Filip – I thought he handled his debut pretty well and he is still three weeks behind the boys, so we will keep pushing him and get him conditioned, fitter and get him ready.
“By the time he is fit and ready, he will know the philosophy more, he will know how we want to play and he will be more ready, but I am pleased with him today.”
With Progres Niederkorn to come in the Europa League on Thursday, and just one more friendly match to come before the league season starts, Gerrard was asked about how he feels his team are progressing and responded: “I am very pleased. We are probably one goal away from everything looking really rosy, but sometimes you need a bit of a kick up the backside or a little bit of a setback just so you see the warning signs that people can’t get complacent.
“Sometimes the timing of it is very important and I thought today, getting a few setbacks is important as it will give us the kick up the backside we need.”