“HUGELY IMPORTANT” is how Steven Gerrard is looking back on the club’s pre-season training camp in Spain.
The Light Blues gaffer is delighted with how things have gone over the last 10 days in the sunshine as he moulds his new-look squad for the upcoming season.
Speaking to RangersTV exclusively, he explained: “It has been hugely important for the squad and for the staff, first and foremost to bond and to get used to each other.
“I feel as if we know an awful lot more about the players on the pitch and off the pitch, and I’m sure they feel the same towards the staff.
“We have laid it down pretty clearly the standards we are looking for on and off the pitch, the fitness levels have certainly improved, so all-in-all, I am really happy.”
Gerrard believes the players are beginning to take on-board the messages being delivered to them by himself and his staff, though he knows it is a process which takes time.
“That isn’t going to happen in eight or nine days,” he continued. “It is something we will have to build over time, but the important thing in these eight or nine days of pre-season, was to really get things over to them slowly in terms of the three phases of the pitch.
“The important thing is this team scored heavily last year and there were some magnificent bits and tacking phases of play that we are really excited about.
“We need to bring that in to next season as well. If we can help tweak that in little areas and add to it, then great. But I think the area where we need to improve is organisation out of possession and really get the non-negotiables over to the players, what we expect and what we demand.
“But yes, they are starting to drop and the information we are giving to them is starting to seep in.”
As Gerrard alluded to, one of the major points of the pre-season trip was to help the players, both old and new, to bond.
And he is delighted in particular with the club’s existing players for the way in which they have treated all the newcomers.
He said: “I think it is credit to all the staff who were here at Rangers last year and all the players who have been around for a long time.
“They have been very welcoming, not just to me and my new staff, but also to the players as well. I made it clear to them on day one I want a good group of people, I want good staff and I want everyone pulling in the one direction.
“I want the environment to be enjoyable, I want it to be a learning environment for the players and it doesn’t matter whether you are part of the media, the fitness side or the physios, everyone has got to enjoy it, but we have got to do our jobs properly and for the players, that means going and making sure you individually and collectively do your job for the team.”
And, when asked if the trip has helped him to identify areas where he perhaps needs more, he smiled: “Yes, that was always going to be the case. I am satisfied with where we are right now and really happy with what the players have given in terms of application.
“Fitness-wise, we have almost got a week and a half to two weeks out of the 10 days which is good, but there are certainly areas where we need to address.
“There are certainly tactical areas where we need to improve, but there is a lot to work with.”