RANGERS start a game slowly. Then play some decent football. But late on concede a goal from awful defending and drop points.

And Steven Gerrard has a go at the players and questions his own decisions

Repeat to fading away in the distance while Celtic, as good as they are playing right now, are helped on their way to nine league titles in a row by a rival in freefall.

What to make of it all.

From the day Gerrard was appointed, I said it was a strange gamble to take. A roll of the dice by a desperate board which needed to sell season tickets, and get the supporters back onside after the Pedro Caxinha/Graeme Murty chaos.

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It made some sort of sense. Risky? Sure. However, after being turned down by Derek McInnes and having to cancel the end-of-season party – for good reason – something had to be done.

And getting in the former England captain, one of the most respected football figures from the past 25 years, really was something.

Rangers fans I know allowed themselves to get excited; albeit recognising this was a rookie boss walking into a massive institution in the shadow of their old friends from across the city.

Over the best part of two seasons, Gerrard has done okay. A six or seven out of 10. In his first two campaigns, this Liverpool legend at least gave Celtic a run for their money – for a bit. That’s progress.

Get through against Braga tonight, which I’ve a feeling they will, and win the Scottish Cup, which I don’t believe is going to happen, would make this season is a success.

Rangers are at this moment in time the second biggest club in Scottish football in terms of finance, stadium, youth policy and playing squad. Second is where they should finish. Anyone who believed Ryan Kent would prove to be the last piece of the puzzle couldn’t be trusted to complete a four-piece jigsaw.

The biggest concern for Rangers fans everywhere is that it’s the same mistakes being made. How many times have they watched their team fall behind, but then get back into it, only to come off at the end with a draw or defeat?

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The manager is the one who carries the can. Always has been, always will be. Gerrard will be judged on results. He won’t be allowed to finish a third season without a trophy.

But is he really the one to blame for what has been a shocking 2020? He is in charge but, sadly, isn’t able to put on the boots and carry his players over the line as he did as Liverpool captain for hundreds of games.

It’s the players, most but not all, who have failed their club.

Kent, we are told, cost £7million. Before Sunday, one of his better games, he had not provided an assist for a year in the Premiership. For a winger who cost so much, and is a talent, that’s a dreadful return.

For all his brilliance, Alfredo Morelos continues to miss games because of stupid bookings. The central defence on Sunday was frighteningly awful. Again. I’d fancy my chances of scoring against them and I make a noise every time I attempt to get out of a chair.

Rangers have shown this season that they can play. I’m not sure ability is the biggest problem. It’s mental strength and attitude. How else can anyone explain the number of games when points have been thrown away from leading positions?

Gerrard is a conservative manager. He is reluctant to make changes during a game. He is not without criticism. But, again, this is someone less than two years into management. He’s still learning, gaining experience, but on some aspects the penny hasn’t dropped.

For the most part, I let him off with that. It would be different if this was someone with 10 years of management on his C.V.. Gerrard has shown potential but that isn’t good enough to beat Neil Lennon’s Celtic to the league.

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In what was a regrettable admission at the weekend, he conceded he was probably not ready to become Liverpool manager. If you are not ready to be Liverpool manager than it’s unlikely you will be good enough for Rangers.

I bet he wished he hadn’t said that.

And as for his public criticism of players, spare me the ‘he’s throwing them under a bus’ nonsense. They are the ones failing to find players with a pass or dealing with the absolute basics of defending long balls, of which there are a lot of in Scottish football.

I’m not buying the players aren’t coached well. As a team, Rangers against Celtic and in Europe have performed superbly as a unit. It’s clear, at least to me, that too many in the squad don’t fancy it as much as they used to

Gordon Strachan made an interesting point when he alluded to the players being affected by the all of the avoidable off-the-field nonsense. I’m sure it hasn’t helped Gerrard but in all honesty, I can see a reason for some PR gaffe having a direct affect on Nikola Katic’s ability or not to win a header.

It certainly doesn’t have an influence on the expensive summer signing going missing during matches.

The players, with a few exceptions, could do with taking a good look at themselves.

So what if there was some sort of fall-out in Dubai. Get over it like adults don’t sulk like a bunch of 12-year-olds.

When May comes and Rangers have nothing, Gerrard should keep his job. He has done enough to be given one more opportunity. As for some players and a fair few more behind the scenes, a taxi has been called.

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AND ANOTHER THING . . .

In a one-to-one interview last week, Andy Robertson was asked about his time working in Marks and Sparks.

Our other Andy admitted that he’s glad that his days in the store were over because he always wanted to be a footballer and, being the most popular player at Liverpool as they are about to win their first title in 30 years, it is a decent enough way to make a living.

But then made the point that it would be insulting to M&S workers to suggest he is better than them. Indeed, Robertson said that had life gone in another direction, that job would have done him fine, and who would he be to look down at former colleagues?

The man is already a legend for all sorts of reasons. His mature and quite correct attitude makes me love him even more.