Rangers are rapidly approaching competitive action for the first time under Steven Gerrard, set to open their UEFA Europa League qualifying campaign next Thursday night at Ibrox.
As reported by The Daily Mail, the manager has now called on his players to make an impression in the week of training and friendlies that’s left.
How a Rangers team under Gerrard will look on the pitch is not yet known, but a friendly against Bury on Friday night should give a big indication how he will set out his team when FK Shkupi come calling next week.
With a raft of first team signings made, competition for places in the Light Blues starting eleven is as fierce as it has been for years and fans are excited to see who will step up and make themselves counted in the new era.
Tens of thousands of fans are expected at the stadium to take in the Bury match, a sign of the expectation that the Liverpool legend has brought to the club in recent months.
Now Gerrard has called on his players to stand out in the final week of preparation and show why they deserve to play in the early stages of the new season.
As quoted by The Daily Mail, he said:
We haven’t got many games before the first qualifier so we’ll have to approach this properly and players are playing for places.
It’s competitive and it’s an opportunity to put a marker down to me to say, ‘I want one of those shirts, one to 11, I want to play.’
It’s a big week, but isn’t every week when you are the manager of a club this size?
That competitive edge to life at Rangers is something that has been missing for far too long and clearly the new boss is hoping to set a standard that can help them compete for major honours over the next 12 months.
First though it’s all about establishing momentum and confidence. Beating teams like Macedonian minnows FK Shkupi comfortably will go a long way towards that and players must respond to Gerrard’s comments and lay down a marker for the season ahead.
As we know, upsets like the one suffered last season in European qualifying can destroy projects before they even get started.