Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has revealed that he is “very excited” to be involved in the Europa League this season after learning who his side will face in the first and second qualifying rounds.
The Light Blues take on FK Shkupi of Macedonia in the first round and Gerrard believes the Ibrox giants “belong” in Europe as they look to reach the group stages of the competition.
Gerrard thinks the tie will be a “good test” for his side as they look to book a place against Croatians NK Osijek or Moldova’s CS Petrocub in the next round.
“First and foremost, I am very excited to be involved in the draw and to have that opportunity to try and qualify for the Europa League,” Gerrard said, as quoted by the Gers’ official website.
“I am sure all the players want to be on that stage and have that platform for their own personal careers, so it is a good draw for us and a good test being drawn at home first and I am really excited to get in front of the Ibrox crowd for real, and hopefully we will get a good result to set us up for the away leg.
“We want to play in Europe. This club belongs in Europe, but first and foremost, we have to go and qualify, and the new players we bring in here; that chat is always on the agenda.”
Football Insider verdict:
Gerrard clearly isn’t taking qualification for granted and will be acutely aware of the aftermath of last year’s early knockout. Getting his side prepared for the July 12th clash with Shkupi at Ibrox is the now the absolute focus for the Ibrox giants as they prepare for the new season. Getting through to the next round will provide a nice confidence boost for Gerrard’s side and ease a little bit of the pressure on them before they’ve even really got started. With only one friendly before the first Europa League game, Gerrard has limited time with his squad to make sure they are ready to go and the Liverpool legend is going to need to maximise the work done on the training ground over the next few weeks. If the Gers do slip up, it could really make life difficult for Gerrard – as it did Pedro Caixinha – and raise questions over his suitability to lead the Light Blues.
In other Rangers transfer news, Steven Gerrard has revealed the Gers ‘love’ this Ibrox star.