Steven Gerrard pleaded with the Rangers fans to lay off James Tavernier after the skipper missed his third spot-kick of the season in a 2-1 victory over Motherwell.
Gerrard admitted he would “consider” taking the right-back off penalty duties after he hit the post while Rangers trailed to Devante Cole’s opener.
But the Rangers manager felt sections of the Ibrox crowd made life difficult for Tavernier when other parts of his play did not come off.
The defender ended up playing a key role as his 80th-minute corner was headed home by Filip Helander to send Rangers level on points with Ladbrokes Premiership leaders Celtic.
“I would like the crowd to help him a bit more,” Gerrard said. “Sometimes when it’s tough and you are not at your best, you need your crowd to be with you rather than against you.
“So a plea for the crowd to stay with him because he will play through it and he can change games, like he did for us today. It’s a fantastic deliver for Fil’s goal. But James needs his people now, it’s important.
“There were a few moans and groans and it doesn’t help. I totally get it, I was just as frustrated as them with more than enough, but when you are a player and you are in the firing line and not everything is going for you, you need your people with you and you need your team-mates with you.
“The fans have been absolutely outstanding with me from the first day but not every player can stay at the top of their game for 60 games.
“It doesn’t happen. Players are going to have dips, big players. But when you feel them on your back even more it’s very difficult to play through it and find your form as quick as you can.
“So we need our punters with us. They are always with us in terms of the big picture getting behind the team – but groaning when someone over-hits a cross doesn’t help.”
Rangers did not get a shot on target inside 45 minutes but Jermain Defoe netted on the rebound in first-half stoppage-time.
“Winning ugly is probably the best way to describe it,” Gerrard said. “There was a big improvement in the second half but – over the course of the game – we weren’t at our best. We have got away with one.
“We have found a way to win but I must pay credit and respect to Motherwell, I thought they were outstanding: a lot of pace up front, direct running, players who do the basics very well, second balls, a lot of hard running.
“Outside of Celtic, they are the best team that have come here.”
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson was proud of his players but ultimately frustrated, especially as Liam Donnelly appeared to have his heels clipped by Defoe just before the equaliser.
“We deserved at least a point,” Robinson said.
“The players implemented exactly what we tried to do and showed a lot of quality. We have no right to come here and show that kind of quality and we did.
“The frustration for me is we got beat by a set-piece.
“I have to give credit, it was a brilliant delivery but we got beat by a set-play and a very, very dubious decision for the first goal.
“If they come together and he falls over and it’s accidental, it doesn’t matter. It’s a foul. And it leads to the first goal.”
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