STEVEN GERRARD believes League Cup success against Celtic on Sunday will be a “huge lift” not only for his players, but the whole club.
The Light Blues take on their rivals at the National Stadium, with Gers looking to end their run of almost nine years without lifting the trophy.
It’s Gerrard’s first cup final in charge of the Ibrox club – but he is no stranger to them from his days as a player.
He told today’s media conference at Hampden: “I have always loved finals from when I was a young kid – when I was at school, an amateur and even more-so since I have become a professional as the trophies mean more.
“So throughout my life, football has always been about cup finals and success, so I am very-much looking forward to it.
“But it’s not about me and the trophies I have won throughout my career. This is about Rangers and the team and the players, and us giving ourselves the opportunity to win our first trophy together.
“We never did that last year which was a setback, so now we have given ourselves an opportunity by reaching the final.
“The players deserve a certain level of credit for that, but now it is about going and getting over the final hurdle, which will be the most difficult, I am sure.
“I am sure if we manage to do it it, it will be a huge lift for, most importantly the supporters and the club, but we would certainly benefit from that as a group.
“We have been together for 18-19 months now, and we have definitely progressed and become better.
“We are now competitive and we have shown on the European stage against high-level opposition that we can compete and win.
“Domestically, I think there is more respect for Rangers now and Sunday gives us another chance to go and grab something that is important.
“I am sure there will be benefits from doing that.”
The manager was asked about Borna Barisic after the Croatian defender missed the midweek trip to Aberdeen through injury.
He continued: “He has done a light session today, and he did three-quarters of it. We are very hopeful, but with respect, we have still got to do one more full session tomorrow so Borna and a few more who are carrying knocks from Wednesday night, we will give them all as late as possible and give them all the best chance to make themselves available.
“I think that is important that they say to us, ‘yes, I am 100 per-cent fit and ready’ as it is going to be a tough challenge on Sunday against a good team.
“There is a possibility it can go further than the 90 minutes, so the players need to prove to me tomorrow in the session they are ready and also tell me as well – that is important.
“He [Borna] needs to be ready to do himself justice and find his best level. I think he has got to think about the supporters and the club and the team rather than make a decision on ego.
“It needs to be, ‘yes, I am ready to deliver for the team and the supporters’ – that is the key to it.”
The manager also insisted his full focus is what his side will do on Sunday.
He added: “Sunday is an opportunity for us to go and prove we are capable of winning – I don’t think history will have anything to do with it on Sunday.
“We know we are playing against a good team that have won of late, but we have an opportunity to stop that and that is what should excite my players and that is what we should all be trying to do on Sunday.
“I have got belief and confidence that if we find our level, we can have a really good chance of being successful at the weekend.
“But, that’s not to disrespect or anything – my focus has got to be us and what we can bring.
“A lot of stuff comes with finals around them, especially with it being an Old Firm and all the media attention.
“But it’s not important – it’s just important to make sure you’re in the best-possible shape come the kick-off at the weekend.
“I want them to be excited and I don’t think there is anything wrong with really looking forward to it and enjoying the build-up and the occasion, of course.
“But, for me, it is important we keep them focused and they remember it is all about what happens on the pitch over the 90 minutes or beyond.”