GRAEME Souness was no stranger to the red mist in Light Blue.

So the former Rangers boss can understand why moments of madness occur, why players do something in an instant that they regret for much longer. Yet the legendary figure that turned 66 on Monday knows time, and the game, has moved on.

Now Souness is watching on as a fellow Liverpool icon leads Rangers and attempts to deal with a discipline problem that has derailed his first season as a manager.

Steven Gerrard cut an exasperated, frustrated figure on Sunday after Allan McGregor picked up Rangers’ ninth domestic red card this term in the win over Hibernian. Overall, 12 have been shown to his players.

It is an issue that has plagued Rangers for some time and one that Gerrard must urgently address.


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“It’s not difficult because he’s a young manager, it’s difficult for any manager,” Souness said. “There’s always pressure when you play for Rangers and I’m the right person to speak about being sent off wearing a Rangers jersey. I played most of my career in England and was only sent off once, playing for Middlesbrough.

“Come to think of it, I was sent off a few times when I was with Sampdoria but, up here, I must have been sent off three or four times – Easter Road, Parkhead and Pittodrie – so I know what that pressure is like.

“You don’t want to take that out of people’s games but what you need is controlled aggression. You can’t play at the highest level without having a certain amount of aggravation in your system but it’s about controlling that. You can’t step across the line – and that’s rich coming from me, I know - but the game has changed dramatically in the last decade.

“You have better pitches, which means players don’t have to take an extra touch and that, in turn, means that there are fewer challenges plus the rules nowadays are far stricter.

“Management has never been harder. When people play against Celtic – and I learned this pretty quickly – there are two types.

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“You either have a mad Celtic supporter who wants to beat you for that reason or you have a kid who grew up supporting Rangers and wants to sign for them.

“I’d play against someone and think: ‘He’s decent; I’ll keep an eye on him’ and then, when I’d go and see him playing against another team a few weeks later he’d be a yard short in his pace and aggression.

“That’s the challenge you have playing for Rangers and it’s exactly the same for Celtic. It’s always the other team’s biggest game of the season and that will never change.”

McGregor’s dismissal on Sunday didn’t cost Rangers, but those that Alfredo Morelos has collected throughout the season have.

The striker was sent off for the fifth time this term against Celtic and Souness believes he is reaching ‘the point of no return’ when it comes to his disciplinary record at Ibrox.

“The big clubs in England won’t be looking at him,” Souness said. “Elsewhere? Maybe. It’s how they [English] see the Scottish game, unfortunately. Virgil van Dijk was a centre-half. The hardest thing to do in football is score goals.


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“Yes you might get someone in the Championship taking a chance on him, but I can’t see the Liverpools and Manchester Citys and Manchester Uniteds being interested in him. That’s how I see it. I might be wrong.

“I wouldn’t know [his valuation], but I’d very much doubt big teams would be interested. Maybe lower end of the Premier League, but they would question his discipline.

“He’s a player, a real player, but he needs to get that out of his game.

“He’s somehow got to keep that fire, but control that fire.”

While McGregor will be an integral part of Gerrard’s plans next term, doubt remains over Morelos’ Gers future beyond the summer.

It has been an ultimately unsuccessful season for Rangers but there are positives to be taken for the Light Blues as Gerrard looks forward.

“Yes, he’s done very well,” Souness said of the Ibrox boss. “They’re far closer to Celtic, even though they’ve slipped up in some games. The word ‘inconsistency’ springs to mind but that can happen when you have a group of players, I need to be careful what I say here, but he’s lacking in quality and he knows that.


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“Steven can’t say that because he needs to keep those players onside but he lacks a bit of quality. Even so, they’re not a million miles away; results suggest that because they’re only nine points behind and that’s closer than they’ve been for years.

“I would see them improving again next year, although they need to get some more players in. There are two ways to do that – you either buy them or promote them through your system and I don ‘t know what he’s got coming through there. Whether he has the money to improve things I don’t know but at all big clubs you’re under pressure to get results and Steven needs some help. He needs a few quid to spend because he’s not too far away from catching Celtic.”

*Graeme Souness was speaking at The Kris Boyd Charity Golf Day at Trump Turnberry. The Boyd Charity raises funds and awareness for Mental Health.