‘Sheyi has got all the attributes and if this doesn’t work, it will be because of him’: Steven Gerrard backs Ojo to light up Scottish football if he can get his mind right after impressing on competitive Rangers debut
- Steven Gerrard told Sheyi Ojo that he can light up Scottish football at Rangers
- The on-loan Liverpool winger dazzled in his competitive debut on Tuesday night
- He scored a great goal in the Europa League qualifier victory over St Joseph’s
- Gerrard was full of praise for the winger but told him to get his mind right
Steven Gerrard told Sheyi Ojo that Rangers can be the making of him after watching the winger score on his full debut in Gibraltar on Tuesday night.
On a season-long loan from Liverpool, he claimed the second goal of the night as Gerrard’s side cruised to a 4-0 win over St Joseph’s to all but claim their place in the second qualifying round of the Europa League.
Ryan Jack made the breakthrough after a goalless first half, with Borna Barasic’s free kick turned home by Connor Goldson before Alfredo Morelos sealed the rout. But Ojo’s goal was the pick of the bunch and Gerrard predicted he could rip up Scottish football this term, if he gets his mind right.
Steven Gerrard told Sheyi Ojo that he can light up Scottish football after impressing at Rangers
Gerrard was full of praise for the winger on Tuesday night but told him to get his mind right
‘Sheyi was outstanding throughout, an incredible performance,’ Gerrard said. ‘He gives us real pace and power down that right-hand side, so I’m pleased for him to score a debut goal on the back of such a strong performance.
‘Sheyi has got all the attributes and if this doesn’t work, it will be because of Sheyi. He’s got everything in the locker, he is quick, strong, powerful. You know he is going to take on tactical information, you see him chasing back and making fouls and getting yellow cards.
‘He knows that he needs to make this work. He is delighted to be here, he has settled in well. Now he has to build on that. Towards the end, I could see him coming down slightly.
‘I want him to be ruthless from start to finish.’ Rangers laboured for 45 minutes before putting the tie to bed with a more clinical second-half display.
‘We were set a challenge and had to beat the block,’ said Gerrard. ‘We knew they would be well organised with a lot of men behind the ball and sometimes on a surface like that and in those conditions, you can be frustrated but I’ve got to give the players credit.
‘They stuck to the task, eventually got the goal and St Joseph’s game plan completely changed, so we’re pleased with the performance.
Ojo scored a great goal in the Europa League qualifier victory over St Joseph’s in Gibraltar
‘Opposition like this is always a potential banana skin.
‘It’s all about your mentality and attitude and across the park today we all turned up.’ Even at this early stage, Gerrard believes the squad is measurably sharper and stronger than this time last year.
‘We have got plenty to go and I think we are only 70 or 80 per cent in terms of being match fit and tuned in,’ he said.
‘Scotty Arfield has just joined us, so he will boost us again.
‘We are in a good place, we are happy where we are up until now. But I will keep pushing them individually and as a group to keep fine tuning it to make sure we are ready.
‘If you take it back 12 months, you have to consider we weren’t match fit when we went to face FK Shkupi and we’re still not match fit.
He was constant menace all night and could be a key player for Rangers in the new season
‘So everything was against us – the conditions, the pitch, so it can be tricky at times. In the first half we did try to force it at times but we showed a great attitude and professionalism throughout.
‘We backed ourselves that the goals would come. We’re a lot further forward than we were 12 months ago.’ Gerrard distanced himself from suggestions he was about to sign Slavia Prague’s Ivorian defender Simon Deli – but admitted he could yet strengthen in that area this week.
He said: ‘There is something imminent in that position, but it’s not the guy you are talking about. If things progress as they have in the last 48 hours, I’m hoping something will get done by the end of the week.’ Gerrard had no update on his efforts to re-sign Ryan Kent from Liverpool on another loan deal as he added: ‘He is a Liverpool player and I believe he is three or four days into the pre-season with Liverpool.
‘Jurgen (Klopp) is going to take a look at him and I am sure he will get opportunities.’