Ibrox form holds key to Europa League success, says Gerrard
Rangers begin their campaign against Feyenoord on Thursday.
Steven Gerrard believes winning matches at Ibrox will be key to Rangers’ chances of progressing from a high-quality Europa League group.
Rangers are joined in Group G by Thursday’s opponents Feyenoord, as well as Porto and Young Boys – a line-up which Light Blues chief Gerrard thinks resembles a Champions League pool.
And the former England midfielder has stressed the importance of taking three points from each of their home games if they are to reach the knockout stages, starting with the visit of Jaap Stam’s side.
He said: “When the group was made it had a Champions League feel to it because of the level of opponents we’re going to be facing.
“You’ve always got to look to your home games if we’ve got any ambitions or dreams to try and get out of this group – and that’s got to be the target because we’re not here to make the numbers up.
“We want to do everything we can to try and get out of the group. If we’re to do that we have to take maximum points at home.
“That will be tough because Feyenoord are a tough team. I know Jaap Stam quite well from his Reading days, I know how he tries to be very organised and play an attacking brand of football.
“So we’ll have to be at it if we’ve got any ambition to take maximum points.
“They come with a big reputation. They’re a massive club, they’ll bring big support and they play an exciting brand of football.
“So they’re certainly a team we need to show full respect to – they’ve got match-winners in the team.
“I don’t think they’ll come and sit in and be negative; I think they’ll come and play and believe that they can take maximum points.
“It’s all set up to be a fantastic game and one we’re all looking forward to.”
Former Liverpool captain Gerrard was used to coming up against Feyenoord counterpart Stam during their playing days, when the Dutchman was at the Reds’ Premier League rivals Manchester United.
Stam also played in the AC Milan side Liverpool came from behind to beat in a thrilling Champions League final in 2005.
Gerrard hailed Stam as one of the best in his prime and said his philosophy shines through when watching his Feyenoord side.
He added: “I was lucky enough to play against him. He was a top player – one of the best defenders in the world when he was at his peak.
“Fortunately enough for me he switched off for one second in one game and I had one of the biggest moments of my career, but I’ve got nothing but respect for him as a player.
“I admire the fact that he’s gone into management and he’s testing himself and taking on all kinds of different challenges.
“He’s at home now, if you like, at Feyenoord, and you can see when you watch his team his philosophy and his way of playing is very clear.”
Gerrard has vowed to try to win the game for former Rangers star Fernando Ricksen, who died following a six-year battle with motor neurone disease on Wednesday.
Dutchman Ricksen made more than 250 appearances for Rangers between 2000 and 2006 and was a firm favourite among the fans.
“It’s very sad,” said Gerrard. “I’m sure the supporters are very sad at this time and we who are responsible for the performance want to do everything we can to try and get a win and dedicate it to him.”