STEVEN GERRARD will be doing his job professionally and properly if Rangers get past Legia Warsaw on Thursday and progress to the group stage of the Europa League.

It’s what he wants. European football is a big reason why so many of his players have joined him in Glasgow. And, not unimportantly, his bosses want it.

But not all the supporters are on board and the manager knows it.

If Rangers fall to the Polish outfit, and Celtic do make it through the play-off against AIK Stockholm, Rangers will in theory, and more likely in reality, have a better chance of winning the league and stopping nine then ten in a row.

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More games means more travel, weariness and injuries. Less time to prepare with today’s visit to St Mirren a prime example. This is why more than a few punters would happily give up on Europe this season. Their priority is the league.

Gerrard admitted: “I totally understand their opinions but I don’t think they’re giving a thought to being in my shoes, when you’ve got a board and a chairman who want European football and a fanbase desperate to follow the team around Europe.

“I want to coach in Europe. The players want to play in Europe in front of a full Ibrox and play in environments such as Legia. So, everybody wants it. Would it be an advantage to have just one game a week? I’m sure it would but at big clubs you can’t prioritise. You have to have a squad that’s capable of competing on all fronts.

“That’s what we have to do. That’s the reason why I’ve made numerous signings, to make the squad as strong as I can to cope.

“Last year, at certain times we felt the effects of Thursday-Sunday and at certain times I looked behind at the bench and wasn’t certain or confident that, if I took a regular off, that I had the same level of player to bring on. I am more confident that the squad is stronger and further down the line than it was, but I’ve got to go and prove it now.”

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Gerrard has a better squad than last time. Too often, his team slipped up against the bottom six clubs, which St Mirren will surely be, because he lacked quality and the players weren’t used to three games in a week.

This goes back to the point that Rangers would be in a better place were they to only have domestic football to concentrate on.

Gerrard and his squad returned from Poland on Friday night and will be in Paisley sometime this morning. It’s a quick turnaround.

The manager admitted: “It does change the challenge because, with all due respect, as a manager you’d like to go into every game fresh, with full preparation and three of four days’ lead-in where you can have everybody well-drilled.

“You can pull them back before the game and have them like caged animals going into it, full of energy, but at top clubs that’s very rarely the case, especially if you’re in Europe and you’re going Thursday-Sunday. That’s the reason I want healthy numbers in the squad and the same level of player in each position, so that each time you make a change or freshen it up, it doesn’t have an impact on the squad.”

St Mirren have made a decent start and proved to be a tricky opponent for Rangers last season.

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Gerrard recalled: “It took a bit of a fluke goal for us to get over the line there, if you remember the Daniel Candeais left-footer that he claims he meant, though I’m not sure about that.

“It’ll be a tough game in a stadium where the fans are really tight and it’s a small, tight pitch where you never feel from pressure. I’m sure they’ll sit in and make it difficult for us. They’ve got a bit of pace in their team now and can hit us on the counter-attack.

“They did that to Aberdeen and got a fantastic result. It also took Hibs until the last four or five minutes to get the breakthrough, so I predict a tough game. It was very important that when the players finished on Thursday night, they turned their focus on this and really understand the importance of these three points.”