Steven Gerrard not interested in mind games ahead of Rangers’ Europa League tie
Steven Gerrard insists he will not get sucked into Midtjylland manager Kenneth Andersen’s mind games as he backed Rangers to handle the pressure in Denmark.
Anderson tried to turn up the heat on the Ibrox side ahead of Thursday night’s Europa League showdown by insisting Rangers were favourites to progress to the play-off round.
But Light Blues boss Gerrard shrugged off those attempts as he said: “I’m not really interested in their manager’s predictions or opinions. It’s not important.
“My focus is on my own players. They are at home. We’re the away team and we’ll come with a game plan, then we’ll see.
“I think he’s trying to put pressure on our side but I don’t think you can put any more pressure on me or our side, because we represent Rangers and that always comes with pressure.”
Rangers have touched down in Herning with confidence levels soaring after Sunday’s dramatic last-gasp winner against Kilmarnock.
But Gerrard knows the Danes are unlikely to copy the stuffy approach taken by Angelo Alessio in Ayrshire.
Midtjylland – who are also run by Brentford owner Matthew Benham – have built up a reputation in Scandinavia for being set-piece specialists.
Yet Gerrard also expects the hosts to play with the ball on the floor and try to exploit his side from open play.
“I saw a happy dressing room at Rugby Park,” he said. “It was a big three points and a fantastic way to start the season.
“But this will be a different challenge.
“It definitely will be a step-up in quality. We experienced that last year, with all due respect, as we moved through the qualifying rounds.
“The level of player goes up from an individual point of view. We are ready for that challenge.
“It has been well documented their strengths in terms of how good they are on set-pieces.
“They have had a lot of joy and a lot of success over the years from a set-piece point of view, and they have a Brazilian connection here, so technically, they’ll have individuals that can create interesting situations against us.
“So they are a good team. They don’t have massive names in terms of throughout Europe, but as a club, they are well respected with the teams they have created.
“They have a Brentford connection as well so we are well aware of their threats and their strengths, but we come here in a good place.
“We are right up for this challenge and it is over two games. It’s important we do everything we can to try and set it up for Ibrox the week after.”
Gerrard’s side were made to huff and puff their way past Progres Niederkorn in the last round while Sunday’s win at Killie only sparked into life in the final eight minutes as Rangers conceded an equaliser before Connor Goldson snatched victory.
But Gerrard hopes Midtjylland will attack his side and leave space for Rangers to show the full scope of their own abilities.
He said: “They do try and play on the floor and try to build out from the back, and I think with home advantage, you imagine playing two up front, they will try and cause a threat.
“I don’t envisage us playing against a block for the majority of the game like we have done in previous rounds and domestically against Kilmarnock.
“But we haven’t played against Midtjylland, so we have to wait and see how the game pans out. We come here with a lot of respect for the team and the opposition, but we come here with belief and confidence as well that we can get the result we want.”
Allan McGregor returns to the Rangers squad – the goalkeeper missed Saturday’s Ladbrokes Premiership opener because of a suspension held over from last season.
Jamie Murphy (groin) and Graham Dorrans (calf) miss out through injury while Matt Polster and Jake Hastie have not been named in the squad submitted to UEFA.
Provisional Rangers squad: McGregor, Tavernier, Flanagan, Helander, Halliday, Barisic, Edmundson, Goldson, Katic, Jack, Davis, Aribo, Docherty, Kamara, Arfield, Ojo, Jones, Stewart, Defoe, Morelos, Foderingham, Firth.