Steven Gerrard calls on Ianis Hagi to improve his consistency levels
Steven Gerrard has vowed to push Ianis Hagi all the way as he seeks to find the consistency levels that will turn the Rangers ace into a genuine star.
The Romania ace – son of former Real Madrid and Barcelona great Gheorghe – has a heavy burden on his back on account of his family name.
And Gerrard has been impressed by the 21-year-old’s determination to live up to that family legacy.
However, not everyone has been so enthused by the former Genk playmaker’s displays so far this season, with mumbles of frustration coming from sections of the Light Blues support following some early season sloppiness.
But there have been signs of improvement in recent weeks. Hagi opened his account for the campaign away to Hamilton last month and followed that up with two assists during Saturday’s 4-0 drubbing of Dundee United.
Now Gerrard has promised he will stay on the youngster’s back to make sure he fulfils his promise.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of Thursday’s opening Europa League qualifier against Lincoln Red Imps, he said: “We saw a real strong performance at Hamilton. He got the goal which has done the world of good for his individual confidence.
“Different players take different times to get up to speed.
“But he’s certainly looking close to what we saw at the back end of last season before Covid kicked in, which is great to see because when he’s at his best, he’s certainly a big help to the team.
“He does thrive on big European nights but I want him to thrive on every game. I want him to be consistent.
“When you’re a young player and you’re growing and evolving, then you have to strive for consistency.
“That is going to be Ianis’ biggest challenge but that’s why a club like Rangers is perfect for him because the supporters and staff will demand that from him.
“But that’s what he wants. The kid doesn’t want an easy ride. He wants to continue to be tested and pushed and he’s got that from me, don’t worry about that.”
Red Imps shocked Celtic four years ago when they claimed a first-leg upset in Brendan Rodgers’ first game in charge of the Hoops.
And Gerrard knows the minnows from Gibraltar will be looking to take another scalp against the blue half of Glasgow.
He said: “I’m sure their players are really looking forward to this game. It’s a fantastic shop window for them, playing on TV against Rangers.
“I’m sure they are going into the game with a cup final mentality. The least we have to do is to match their desire and hunger.
“That’s what I’ll be all over the players on from now until kick-off.
“It becomes complicated if you lack respect and think just because we’re Rangers we’re going to win the game. Football doesn’t work like that.
“We’ve got to match the effort, the commitment, the application and the desire that’s coming our way. Then hopefully the quality players we have will get us over the line.
“But the key message is keep your standards high.”