McAlister: Gerrard can handle tough times at Rangers

Gary McAlister has backed Rangers boss Steven Gerrard to recover from the toughest week of his Ibrox reign so far – in the same way he overcame several major blows during his playing career.

As Liverpool captain, Gerrard refused to give in when his side found themselves 3-0 down in the 2005 Champions League final, leading the remarkable fightback that saw them pip AC Milan on penalties to be crowned kings of Europe.

There were injuries, poor results in domestic competition and disappointments abroad with England too, but those setbacks could not stop him going on to mark out a career that will see him remembered as one of the greatest midfielders of his generation.

And McAllister – once an Anfield team-mate, now his number two in Govan – can see the same resilience entering into his make-up as a manager.

The unfettered praise that was heaped on Gerrard in the early weeks of his Gers stint has slowed on the back of seven days that saw his team dominate Spartak Moscow in the Europa League but fail to capitalise, let slip the chance of a place in the Betfred Cup final with defeat to Aberdeen and then suffer fresh frustration with Wednesday’s draw at home to Kilmarnock.

But McAllister insists the Light Blues boss will handle those lows.

The former Scotland skipper said: “As a manager yes, (this is Steven’s first taste of adversity), but as a player he has had plenty of disappointments.

“He’s had some massive highs, that’s never in question, but he’s a guy who knows how to deal with the down side of the game.

“It’s something he has coped with as a Liverpool captain and as England captain, so this period is something he can handle and that’s easy for me to say because I know that.”

However, McAllister admits some of Rangers’ players are taking time to adapt to dealing with the massive expectation levels that come with pulling on a blue jersey.

Among them is new signing Eros Grezda, who has barely featured since his his £2million move from Osijek.

But the Rangers assistant boss feels the Albanian is ready to burst into life.

McAllister said: “There is definitely for me, having watched him training and having been around him, a confidence and a swagger coming into his play, which is what we saw when we decided to bring him here.

“I see a player that is getting very close now. He’s certainly shown more confidence around the building and on the training pitch.

“Why has it taken him time to settle? He had an injury and when you watched the clips of him at Osijek, the thing that stood out was that there was nobody there watching.

“All of a sudden he is at a place where there’s 50,000 looking on – that’s different.”

McAllister believes Rangers need to show more “poise” in the final third after producing just one goal in their last three games.

And he warned struggling St Mirren will not make it easy for them during Saturday’s lunchtime clash in Paisley.

He said: “They got a good result against Celtic when they had a specific shape that night and I think they’ll employ a similar shape against us.

“They’ll get men behind the ball and make it very difficult. It’s not a given and we know it’s going to be a tough game.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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