Steven Gerrard: Rangers manager nears club’s European record

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Rangers have reached the last 32 Europa League games for the second consecutive season and manager Steven Gerrard’s European stats continue to impress.

It was his 22nd European victory in his third campaign as manager – tying the mark set by Ibrox predecessor Dick Advocaat and one short of Walter Smith’s total.

Here, BBC Scotland examines how the former England captain has propelled himself into the realms of the club’s most successful European managers.

Big results against big names

Gerrard’s most notable successes came against the Portuguese opposition.

Braga and Porto last season, and Benfica this quarter, couldn’t get the upper hand over Rangers, although Ibrox’s side lost twice twice to draw home and away with the latter this season.

Feyenoord was beaten at Ibrox last year before Rangers claimed a Rotterdam draw against the Dutch. And this season, the Scots have won at home and away against Belgians Standard Liège and Lech Poznan of Poland.

“Being at this level now and beating teams shows the big steps we have taken as a group,” Gerrard said after Thursday’s 2-0 win over Poznan.

“The challenge now is to be able to continue building on it?” It’s the best I have felt in terms of the strength of our team and I have confidence in the 24 or 25 players that we have. “

Consistency of performance and results

Prior to 2019, the club had not won two home games in a Champions League or Europa League group stage campaign. But that statistic ended last season and was emulated this time around.

This season was also the Rangers’ first undefeated group campaign in either competition since 1992-93.

The Rangers have lost three group games in three years under Gerrard and have won or drawn each of their qualifying games since 2018.

Manage the pressure of qualifications

In total, Gerrard’s Rangers have gone through 11 qualifying games over the past three seasons, including eight two-legged and three single-game games in the competition affected by Covid-19 this season.

Those draws and wins undoubtedly improve the manager’s overall stats in Europe, and players like Walter Smith, Dick Advocaat, Graeme Souness and Alex McLeish have had fewer qualifying rounds to face.

Ranger manager files

But given that Rangers were knocked out by Luxemburg’s Progres Niederkorn the year before Gerrard’s arrival, navigating these matches was not a given.

And Gerrard’s team were not hampered in Europe. Of their five losses in the past three years, four have been away from home by just one goal, with a 3-1 home loss to Bayer Leverkusen the only exception.

“I think it’s a huge achievement to win the group and it’s really deserved,” added the manager.

“Based on our performance in the six games we deserve to be in first place and with a little more experience we could have won all six games. “

“A really intimidating side to play” – analysis

Former Scottish midfielder Michael Stewart on Sportsound

With a performance that was not scintillating, they always comfortably beat Lech Poznan, scored two goals and kept a clean sheet. You can’t ask for too much. They are so effective and clinical and that is a wonderful trait to have.

Former Rangers winger Neil McCann on Sportsound

They are creating a fear factor now. It’s a really intimidating side to play in their operation. They don’t change. They say, “This is how we play, you know how we play, can you handle that? And so far they have not been able to be stopped.

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