RANGERS hit the top of the Scottish Premiership this afternoon – and boss Steven Gerrard is delighted with how his side are making it “really difficult” for opposition teams at Ibrox.
The Light Blues dismantled Hamilton Accies 5-0 to take pole position in the table following results elsewhere this afternoon, and the manager was delighted with how his men rose to the challenge.
He told RangersTV: “I’m very pleased, and I thought we were really strong. It is another really strong home win and we are making it really difficult for sides to come here.
“They set us a challenge in putting 11 men behind the ball, but thankfully, we got that early breakthrough and it was absolute quality from Jermain Defoe. It was a fantastic ball from Greg Stewart and an exquisite finish.
“That always helps as it gives Hamilton a big problem, but I was really happy with the hunger and how aggressive we were to go and get more goals to go and finish it off in good style, so I am really pleased.
“We are sitting top – but it is vitally important we don’t get carried away as it is still October and it is still early days.
“The challenge and the target for the team, over this block of fixtures, was to take 12 points from 12, and they have delivered. They deserve a lot of praise and they should be very proud of themselves – but the message to them is it’s still October and there is still an awful lot of football to be played before we can get carried away.”
Defoe’s second hat-trick of the season moved him onto 12 goals already for the campaign – but his terrific striking play was matched on the day by Connor Goldson – the centre-half making a run for goal and playing a super one-two with James Tavernier before netting a diving header.
“It was an impressive goal,” continued Gerrard. “He won the ball, played it out wide and then followed his run – it was a terrific cross from James and a fantastic finish, but all the goals were good today.
“All the individuals deserve praise, as do those with the assists, but all I am interested in is the win, the performance and another important three points.”
Borna Barisic also netted a wonderful free-kick in the rout, with Gerrard adding:“Borna has been playing ever-so consistently of late. I think probably his last five or six performances have been his strongest in a Rangers shirt.
“He seems happy and he is settled, and he has got that quality in his bag where he can score free-kick or get assists – long may that continue as if we can keep him in that form, it will be a huge help to this team.”
On a day of so many positives, George Edmundson made an excellent starting league debut, and the manager beamed: “He was really strong and he has been out for a little while looking in and I wanted him to get used to how we play and have a look at the opposition.
“So he has looked in and he has been learning and been working ever-so hard for his opportunity. That came today and he took it – I thought he was faultless – outstanding.”
And, after 14 months out of first-team action, Jamie Murphy came on in the second half to a huge ovation, the manager saying: “It’s not just about getting him minutes – I think he deserves to be in the 18 today as he has been pushing in training and looking stronger.
“I think his strength is coming back in his legs now after a long lay-off. He deserved the opportunity – he was really close to getting on the scoresheet as well, but unfortunately he was offside.
“Jamie must keep pushing now – keep pushing and, as a squad, it is very difficult to pick 18 now because of the quality we have got and people coming back from injury.
“People need to work ever-so hard to stay in the team and stay in the 18.”