Steven Gerrard lays down Champions League challenge to Rangers stars as he hails 'amazing' run
Rangers tumbled out of Europe against a classy Bayer Leverkusen side who Gerrard admitted were a grade or two above his team.
But the Ibrox boss applauded his men for taking great strides on the continent for the second straight season.
And he urged them to learn from Leverkusen if they want to take the next step.
But he wants even more if the progress is to continue.
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Gerrard said: “We didn’t find our level of performance to give it a good go. We’re disappointed.
“The best side’s gone through over the two legs. There’s a lot we can improve on moving forward and we have found a level tonight to strive for.
“Every day back on the training pitch we need to keep improving individually and collectively and hopefully one day we can get to that level.
“You have to look at the bigger picture and, yes we are disappointed with our two performances, but football is about levels.
“That’s the level we need to get to because it’s a Champions League level. That’s what football’s all about, keep striving to be better.
“I need to keep pushing the players, I’ve added two more to the group and we need to do that to give the players that are here help.
“The board and myself are on the same page, we understand we need to keep improving and give the players help.
“The backing has been there for sure and I think we have earned that backing by what we have done in Europe, getting out the groups and we have done really well for the club. That works both ways.(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
“We are ambitious, hungry and we will pick the bones out of tonight because there were things that went wrong and we will come back stronger.”
Moussa Diaby’s goal shortly after the break sealed a 1-0 win for the Bundesliga giants and a comfortable 4-1 aggregate win.
But the advances made in Europe in Gerrard’s two years at the helm – only three years on from the Progres Niederkorn horror show – have been stark.
Rangers had beaten Porto, Feyenoord and Braga on their way to the last 16 clash.
Gerrard said: “The run’s been amazing, the players have given me everything they’ve got and have really pushed themselves to the max and punched above their weight.
“We’ve come a long way. We lost to a part-time team three years ago and now we are competing in the last 16.
“It’s an amazing achievement to where we have got to but we are Rangers and we need to keep striving for more.”
Meanwhile, Connor Goldson praised his team mates for an impressive campaign which started last JULY with a 4-0 victory against St Josephs in Gibraltar.
It’s been a thrilling journey for the Light Blues faithful but Goldson admitted the Leverkusen tie was a “step too far”.
Rangers were on the back foot for large spells against Peter Bosz’s classy Bundesliga outfit that included £100m-rated wonderboy Kai Havertz.
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Goldson said: “It was tough, they’re a good side. Everything we tried to do against a lot of the other sides in Europe, they found easy to play round it.
“In the first half I don’t think we were aggressive enough, it was too easy for them. We had a little more joy after the break.
“But I’m proud of everyone, they places we have been, the quality we have shown, it was brilliant and all the lads deserve all the credit.
“Maybe tonight was just a step too far for us. The results we’ve got this year in the Europa League have been brilliant.
“We now have to go through the qualifying again, start from scratch, it’s the start of another long season but we want to play in arenas like this and test ourselves against top players.
“We pushed ourselves all year and want to do it again. In little glimpses we’ve shown we’re good enough to play against teams like this. We will debrief and learn. When we come up against this sort of opposition again we’ll hopefully be better.”