Rangers: Five talking points as Steven Gerrard’s side suffer Premiership defeat ahead of Champions League clash

THE unbeaten run is over. At the venue where their status as champions was confirmed in March, Rangers suffered their first league defeat since losing to Hamilton 12 months previously as Dundee United clinched a memorable Tannadice victory.

It is one that Thomas Courts and his players more than merited as Jamie Robson netted the only goal of the game. For Rangers, this wasn’t the response to the loss in Malmo that Steven Gerrard had in mind.

Rangers will return to European duty on Tuesday evening aiming to kick-start a season that has been uninspiring so far. Here are five talking points as United humbled the champions.


This was no smash and grab win for United. Courts had been critical of his players following the defeat to Aberdeen last weekend but there was no shortage of application here and his side just wanted it more on an afternoon that was wretched for Rangers.

The post-mortem will focus on the failings of Gerrard’s side, but that takes nothing away from United and their performance. They would contain Rangers for large periods and then, when the chance came along, they took it when it mattered.

It was a goal – much like the two that were conceded in Malmo last week – that Rangers won’t want to see again as individual errors cost them dear. Such moments summed up their afternoon as Gerrard was left to rue a showing that was out of character from his side.

Time will tell what Courts can achieve at Tannadice after stepping up to replace Micky Mellon as manager this summer. What a platform he has given himself to build on, though, and this result will take some beating this term.


The win over Livingston was workmanlike rather than swashbuckling for Rangers last weekend and they would pick up where they left off on league duty at Tannadice.

Rangers may have had more chances in the first half, but it was United that showed more verve and drive. The Light Blues picked it up slightly after the restart, but would fall behind and never looked like equalising, even during a late rally as they became increasingly desperate.

Rangers didn’t deserve to win this one. The performance was once again flat and largely uninspiring and nowhere near the levels that Gerrard would have expected or demanded.

There was no spark, no energy or no ideas about the champions and Gerrard must get to the bottom of that quickly. Such lethargic showings cannot be allowed to go unchecked, even this early in the campaign.


Even when he is not pulling on his boots, Alfredo Morelos has still been at the centre of the conversation in recent weeks. At Tannadice, he had to do his talking on the park.

A short summer break after the Copa America, ten days in quarantine and a couple of training sessions aren’t exactly the perfect preparation for a Premiership fixture. Ultimately it showed but Morelos was far from Rangers’ biggest culprit here.

Had Kemar Roofe not had to withdraw from the squad due to a family issue, chances are Morelos wouldn’t have started. Rangers will hope that the 82 minutes – albeit largely ineffective ones – will sharpen him up ahead of Malmo.

A couple of first half chances weren’t converted but there was little service for the Colombian. That wouldn’t improve after the break as Rangers struggled to assert themselves and Morelos became increasingly isolated through the middle.


There have been times in recent seasons that fans were left frustrated at the midfield three of Steven Davis, Glen Kamara and Ryan Jack operating together and the feeling was that they were too similar in style and substance.

The same allegation could be made here as summer signing John Lundstram was pitched in for his first Premiership start alongside Kamara and Davis. It was a poor outing for the former Sheffield United midfielder in all honesty and Rangers were punished when he inexplicably didn’t track the run of Robson.

The loss of Ianis Hagi was undoubtedly a blow for Rangers, while Joe Aribo was placed one line higher as he joined the front three. It left Rangers a bit short of creativity in the middle of the park, though.

There are times – such as European outings and Old Firm fixtures – where a more solid three is required for Rangers. On Saturday, it just didn’t quite work on an afternoon where too many main men were off it once again.


Gerrard issued a passionate rallying call to the Ibrox crowd in the aftermath of the defeat to Malmo on Tuesday night. Just hours later, it was confirmed that there will be a full house for the Champions League showdown.

The home crowd – many of whom won’t have been at a fixture since last March – will be ready to play their part against the Swedes, but Gerrard needs more from those on the park regardless of what influence the fans can have.

On the basis of the first leg last week, there is little between Rangers and Malmo and it is a game the Light Blues are more than capable of winning as they look to set up a meeting with Olympiacos or Ludogorets.

It will require Rangers’ most accomplished performance of the season so far, though. What they have served up in three competitive outings has been nowhere near good enough and a repeat will see their Champions League dreams come to a premature end.

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