Steven Gerrard talking about the need for players to show courage and commitment has been a recurring theme this season.
The Rangers boss has been frustrated by the way his players have let their standards slip at key moments.
He can’t dream of recruiting the quality of player Jurgen Klopp has at Liverpool, but the desire they showed while beating Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield last Tuesday is something he wants to become second nature at Ibrox.
That’s why Gerrard loves Scotland star Andy Robertson – even if the full-back doesn’t return the good luck wishes!
Gerrard joked: “Andy Robertson’s a Celtic fan. He deserves no praise off me.
“I heard the rumours about what’s going on at the Melwood training ground when our game’s on.
“I’ve got some friends there, so I know Andy’s been jumping about in certain Old Firm matches, which I’ll address next time I see him.”
The Rangers boss struggled to keep a straight face during his ribbing about Robertson’s roots as a football fan.
What he really wanted to talk about was the former Queen’s Park and Dundee United man’s achievements on the pitch.
He said: “He’s been a breath of fresh air. He’s a top player.
“I admire where he started and where he’s got to. He’s an incredible example to players who have the same dreams and aspirations.
“I love him, as a Liverpool fan. I live near him and have bumped into him a couple of times.
“He’s a top kid as well. He deserves everything that will come his way in the coming weeks and years.
“I hope he stays at Liverpool for a long time.”
Robertson won new admirers around the world for the way he stood up to Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
He was forced out of the match at half-time after a kick from Suarez, but came up with the perfect reply by saying: “Who’s going to the final? We are. That’s all that matters.”
Gerrard, a man who captained Liverpool to Champions League glory with their stunning comeback against AC Milan in Istanbul, can’t get enough of that attitude.
He went on: “When you cross the line on to a football pitch, you have to forget personalities and egos, brands and reputations.
“They are trying to take away from you and your family what you want.
“They are trying to take memories and experiences away from you, so respect goes out the window for 90 minutes.
“That’s football at the top. It’s the only way you achieve things.”
Liverpool’s success in reaching the Champions League Final in Madrid leaves Gerrard with a problem.
He said: “On the way to my car from Anfield – and I left the game early – I had four ticket requests for the first of June.
“People think I have the same allocation as when I was a player.
“You know what my ticket allocation is for the Champions League final? One ticket. For me.
“I’ve got to find, I reckon, 40 tickets for the final to make other people happy.”
Gerrard is content that progress has been made during his first season at Rangers.
Games like today’s against Celtic don’t tell the whole story, but he admits results in these encounters have a special significance.
A chat with Brendan Rodgers left him with the impression that his work is causing a little nervousness in the east end of Glasgow.
He said: “The Old Firm games were very one-sided before I came in.
“A lot of Rangers fans watched those previous derbies from behind the couch.
“Players have more confidence and they feel they can go toe-to-toe with Celtic.
“You’d have to ask Celtic if they fear us more now than they did before.
“But speaking to Brendan Rodgers in Dubai during the winter break, I certainly got that impression.
“Listening to their interviews and reading between the lines, I think there’s a lot more respect for
this Rangers team and squad now.
“We shocked them in that December game and it hurt them for a while because
there was a big break after it.
“So I expect a better Celtic today, one that’s fired up and one that who shows Rangers a level of respect.
“I have more confidence now that we can have some good times together in the next 12 months.
“But things also have to happen off the pitch for us to improve and get better and have a more competitive squad.”