New Rangers boss Steven Gerrard set for first competitive clash against FK Shkupiby Jack Kitson / 12 July 2018, 11:42Tweet
Steven Gerrard takes charge of his first competitive Rangers match tonight (Thursday) when he leads out his troops at Ibrox against Macedonian side FK Shkupi who are managed by Zekirija Ramadani.
Gerrard’s first friendly fixture in charge of the Gers was a comprehensive 6-0 hammering of Bury in front of 41,000 that Ibrox, with Jamie Murphy, Nikola Katic, Scott Arfield (x2), Alfredo Morelos and Zak Rudden bagging the goals.
Now, ahead of his first competitive game in senior management Gerrard, who won the Champions League, UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup as a player, has called for his troops to use last season’s disappointment - Rangers were humiliated by Luxembourg minnows Progres Niederkorn at this stage of the competition - as fuel to go on and overcome Shkupi.
"We only have to go back 12 months to realise any opponent has to be respected. I'll echo what I've said to the players: it's about us and about getting our house in order,” said Gerrard.
“We're moving forward very quickly and taking giant strides.
"This'll be one of the easiest team talks I'll ever have to do. All I have to do is show them the faces from 12 months ago in the away leg and that's the team talk right there. If you're not ready to go and put that right, we have a serious problem here.”
Gerrard also spoke about how the home support can play a key role in the first-leg of the tie:
"This is the real one. I've been waiting a long time. The reception for a friendly was incredible. We had 41,000 turn up in summertime, during the World Cup, in one of the biggest games of the World Cup. They can be so powerful for this team, and can get us through certain situations."
Over in the opposite dugout is Shkupi boss Ramadani, who is in his second spell in charge. The 40-year-old will oversee the club’s first ever European adventure in Glasgow, although he’s admitted he doesn’t know a whole lot about Gerrard’s Rangers.
"We have made our preparations, but we do not know so much about the current team at Glasgow,” said Ramadani.
"We expect the game to be great. We will respect Glasgow, but we go to give the maximum.”
Rangers are the scorching hot 1/14 favourites to win the first-leg, while Shkupi are the 18/1 outsiders, whereas a draw can be found at 8/1 (Bet365).