STEVEN GERRARD felt like the world was against Rangers on Sunday. Going forward, it will be Rangers against the world.

His comments in the aftermath of the draw with Aberdeen provoked an unsurprising reaction in many quarters as he was criticised and scoffed at from afar.

Inside his dressing room and within his support, the message was taken somewhat differently, however, as Gerrard stood up for his players at Pittodrie.

His opinion that Rangers were a ‘class above’ Derek McInnes’ side and belief that poor refereeing decisions had been ‘happening for a good while’ allowed his detractors a chance to fire early shots this season.

That won’t faze the 38-year-old, however, as he looks to create a united front that will allow Rangers to go from strength to strength this term.

“Everything I say people will have a split opinion on,” Gerrard said.

“My job is to protect my players and my club and we’re looking for a mentality change and we want that siege mentality from everyone at Rangers moving forward.

“Sometimes you have to say certain things to get an advantage in another area.

“I didn’t say the comments to disrespect Aberdeen or Derek - I have nothing but respect for them. They finished above us the last two seasons so we respect them and we know they are a dangerous team.

“But I believe at the weekend we were the better team and if people have a split opinion on that I have no problem with it.”

Gerrard may lack experience as a manager but he saw it all through his glittering career as a player and has the medals and memories to back-up his beliefs.

Supporters learned plenty about the character of his side as they recovered from the loss of Alfredo Morelos to come within seconds of a famous win at Pittodrie.

But they were also given an insight into Gerrard’s methods and his man-management during his first post-match press conference in the Premiership.

“I did, yeah,” he said when asked if he appreciated managers standing up for his players. “And I also have experience of playing against other manager that did that very well as well.

“Sometimes as a manager you have to do and say certain things to protect your team and try and gain any advantage you can moving forward.

“If that splits opinion in the public, I apologise. Any advantage you can get you try and do it.”

Gerrard has spoken a lot about the requirement for a change in the attitude at Ibrox in recent weeks and it hasn’t taken long for that shift to come to the fore.

His approach tactically will be different and his players are of a higher standard technically than the ones he inherited. Crucially, he believes they have the right mentality for life at Rangers.

“I am delighted with the players so far,” Gerrard said. “We have had a lot of changes, which I felt there had to be, and we are still obviously a work in progress moving forward.

“We are doing everything we can but I am delighted with what the players are giving me in terms of application and buying into what we are trying to do.

“They are giving me absolutely everything. You saw the performance at the weekend, especially when we went to ten men, and as a manager that is all you can ask for.

“I think we are still gelling and there is a lot of work to do and improvement to come. We will continue to improve. I have got that confidence in the players.

“All we do as staff is give them a way, give them ideas, and they have to go and carry it out so it is credit to the players not us.”

The work that Gerrard has undertaken in the transfer market has transformed the squad on the park and revitalised the supporters off it.

As a player, he would often be asked to act as middle-man and help get transfer deals over the line by talking to targets and enticing them to Liverpool.

His position may now have changed but the questions he asks and answers he looks for remain the same.

“It is a similar role, you have to speak to these players and sell your club to these players and sell the platform and the stage to them,” Gerrard said.

“Ask them what they need, what they are looking for, try and get a feel for them. Are they hungry? Do they want to learn? Do they think they are the finished article? Do they just want to play in a certain position or are they open to adapt to what the team needs? You can get a flavour from a player quite quickly.

“I think the key for me, and what helps me, is that this club is huge. We believe we have got an advantage because we can provide 50,000 every other week to these players, we are on the TV every week, we have got a huge media following.

“If they come and play well and have consistency, you can be a help to them as well because all of these players want to be internationals. You need a lot of things to help you get to that stage.

“You need the right club, the right stage, the right people around you that will help you grow and the public and the media. If they see you performing positively, it helps you get to where you want to get to.”

The next step on that journey – both collectively and individually – will be taken at Ibrox tonight as Rangers face Maribor in the Europa League.

The Gers have overcome Shkupi and Osijek so far this term and Gerrard is expecting another stern test at the third European hurdle.

“They definitely have areas we can exploit in games that I have watched last season and this season - even in games where they have kept a clean sheet,” he said.

“They gave a couple of chances away which the opponents haven’t capitalised on. We have told our lads they will not get tons and tons of chances so when they do get them then it’s important to take them.

“It’s difficult to judge in terms of how strong the Croatian league is compared to the Slovenian one.

“Osijek were a very dangerous team and we have respect for Maribor with their Champions League experience. But I don’t think they will be miles apart in terms of their class.”