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Men's Football Gerrard: Ibrox must be a fortress

STEVEN GERRARD warned his Rangers squad today that they need to maintain their solid foundations if they are to make Ibrox a fortress once more.

Rangers were beaten seven times in their 19 Premiership games at Govan last term — their worst run in 103 years — as opposed to just three defeats away from home.

Gerrard made stiffening Gers’ defences his first task when he took over in the summer and his new-look side have now impressively battled their way to the verge of the Europa League play-off round.

But ahead of hosting their first Premiership game of the new campaign against St Mirren tomorrow, Gerrard has made it clear he expects Rangers’ standards to remain high after admitting his team are not good enough to pick and choose when they put the effort in.

“These are the games we have to win and take maximum points from,” said the former Liverpool captain. “The idea is to make Ibrox a fortress but the mentality has to be whatever team comes to Ibrox and in whatever competition, we have to own the stadium.

“We need to perform like a Rangers team should perform, which is on the front foot, aggressive and controlling the game with our style.

“We’re not good enough, and we haven’t been good enough of late over the last few years, to pick and choose the games we turn up in.

“We can’t just think: ‘Oh, it’s a big game today so we’ll turn up.’

“Every single game is big at Ibrox, whether it be in the league, the cup or the Europa League. That has got to be the mentality.

“Whoever comes into our stadium has got to feel this new Rangers team.”

Rangers had to ride their luck against Maribor in yesterday’s Europa League third qualifying round clash after losing their way for a spell during the first half — but they returned after the break to blow the Slovenians away as they claimed a 3-1 first-leg triumph.

Now Gerrard wants to see more of that second half showing against the Buddies.

The Ibrox boss — who is without Ryan Jack as he continues to recover from concussion but has new signing Borna Barisic available to face former Everton adversary Alan Stubbs’s Saints side — added: “To be fair to the players, they’re trying to make the supporters proud of the team. They understand they haven’t been at it for the last couple of seasons and the fans demand more.

“The expectations are high but I feel that with every home game we’re getting a little more confidence.

“The second half performance last night was the strongest we’ve looked for 45 minutes. The challenge for us is can we play with that intensity and aggression over the full 90 minutes and become a really strong team?

“My full focus now is St Mirren. We need to park the Europa League for the moment.

“We have got a big league game, our first at home and it’s important we get off to a positive start and get maximum points.

“St Mirren will be a different challenge. They are going to be looking to get a shock result and we need to be ready for that challenge, first and foremost, before worrying about the second leg.”

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