STEVEN GERRARD believes Rangers’ start to this evening’s victory over Hearts helped them make it a comfortable evening.
Gers opened with a superb tempo to the match and opened up a two-goal lead through Jermain Defoe and Connor Goldson before Scott Arfield made it 3-0 after the break.
Speaking to RangersTV, Gerrard said: “I think we made it comfortable with how we started – I thought we were excellent and came out the blocks and played with energy, intensity and passed the ball very well.
“I think Hearts found it very difficult to live with us. We came off the gas a little bit leading up to half-time, but obviously, we were pleased with the clean sheet to half-time and the lead we had.
“I am also happy with the lads going into the second half as well and killing the game off as sometimes at 2-0, it can be one of those scorelines where if you concede a goal, the game can change.
“I thought our game management was really good tonight. We got sloppy in the last 20 minutes, but I would probably have predicted that before the game with the shift the lads put in at Celtic Park with 10 men.
“So I will give them the sloppiness in the last 20, but overall, I’m very pleased.”
Gerrard made a slight alteration to his shape with Arfield playing further forward in a 4-3-3 formation, with the manager adding: “Daniel Candeias put in a mighty shift at Celtic Park and he has played an awful lot lately and looked slightly jaded, so I wanted to give him some oxygen and energy tonight.
“Scott is a clever player who can play on the right, on the left and an eight or as a 10 as he has got game intelligence and I was very pleased with his performance tonight and he got his goal which I predicted when I spoke to him.
“I said ‘listen, you’ll be close to the goal so you’ll get more chances” – so credit to him for getting the goal, and yes, we did tweak it slightly today, and the idea was to try and leave three up against their three when the ball turned over, and I think we worked it quite well.”
Behind the front three, Gerrard praised the contribution of Glen Kamara and Steven Davis with the manager adding: “Outstanding. Kamara has been very consistent since he walked in the door and he is going to continue to grow and improve and I think Rangers have got themselves a good player who is potentially going to be a great player.
“And what impressed me most tonight about Steven Davis was his physical condition. He was everywhere and he looked fit and he looked sharp. We always know he is excellent in possession and he has got that game intelligence, but I was more impressed with his condition and he looked like a fit Steven Davis tonight which was very nice to see.”
And on the attitude of the players as they turned in a super effort, the manager continued: “Listen, every time you put the Rangers shirt on you have something to play for and we want to try and finish the season as strong as we can.
“We are all aware of where we are – we need to improve, get better and at the end of the season when the window opens, we will get to work and we will make things happen.
“But what we have got now, and the players we have got, have done a lot of good things this season.
“We have had some cruel blows and setbacks along the way, but what I will give the players is I believe we are closer than what a lot of people think.
“Performances like tonight, certainly for the first 45 minutes, it was a good level and if we can maintain that level of consistency consistently, we will move on and we will improve.”