Aberdeen raise their game to face Rangers, says Gerrard

Steven Gerrard has accused Aberdeen of trying harder against his Rangers side than they do when they face other teams.

Rangers have struggled to get the better of the Dons this season, especially in Glasgow.

Derek McInnes’ side have knocked the Light Blues out of both cup competitions with victories in the city and also won on their last Ladbrokes Premiership visit to Ibrox.

They will be looking to make it a clean sweep when they head south for the final meeting of the teams this season on Sunday.

But Gerrard says the Dons have not always shown the same effort levels as they do when facing his team.

“Aberdeen play differently against Rangers,” said the former Liverpool captain.

“That’s what I’ve noticed. They certainly raise their game. It seems as if Rangers is their biggest game of the season.

“Do they try harder against Rangers? That’s the way it looks on the eye. We watched them last week against Celtic and they never laid a finger on Celtic in the semi-final.

“They obviously come to play against Rangers and bring their A game. They’re very physical and they definitely lift their game against Rangers, that’s for sure.

“I suppose they know they have to be at their maximum to stop us. There have been some good battles. They have had the upper hand in the cups, knocking us out. But as the league stands we’ve done slightly better.

“I’m not saying they don’t raise their game against Celtic but they have found their form definitely against Rangers. And having watched them against Celtic a few weeks ago it wasn’t the performance you expect from Aberdeen if you look at their performances against Rangers.”

Gerrard was unhappy with the effort levels of some of his own fringe players during a closed-door clash with Liverpool’s under-23s earlier this week.

Rangers found themselves four goals down at half-time and it took the introduction of four youngsters to salvage a 4-4 draw.

Now those failing to pull their weight have been warned they may not have a future under his watch if they do not buck up their ideas.

“Certain individuals’ performance and effort and desire was embarrassing for this football club,” said Gerrard, who confirmed Jake Hastie is set to become his latest new arrival amid reports a four-year pre-contract has been agreed.

“There were quite a few reasons for the game and for us it was a very important game.

“We wanted to get a lot out of it but unfortunately we got very little out of the first half.

“It doesn’t concern me because it’s quite easy. You identify the people who want to be with you and fight for success and identify those who don’t really care and are starting to show signs of downing tools.

“It all comes out in the wash. All you do is move forward with the people you trust and when the right time comes you leave the others behind.

“It’s no secret that there’s an interest (in Hastie) there. But until we get it completed, there’s nothing really to say on it. But I’m not going to sit here and deny it.”

While some first-teamers may have played themselves out of Gerrard’s plans this week, a number of the club’s under-18s could be fast-tracked to the senior squad after claiming the Scottish Youth Cup with victory over Celtic at Hampden Park on Thursday night.

Gerrard said: “There are certainly plans to introduce them at some point but whether that’s in the final four games, that remains to be seen.

“But I thought the team performance was magnificent. Celtic were terrific too. It was a great advert for youth football in the country.”