Rangers boss Steven Gerrard on Alfredo Morelos challenge: 'Why would I need to speak to him about that?'
Steven Gerrard insists he has no reason to warn Alfredo Morelos after an aerial challenge on Mark Connolly during the 2-1 win over Dundee United prompted many observers to conclude the striker was fortunate to stay on the park.
The Colombian was booked by referee Steven McLean for appearing to lead with his elbow. The Ibrox side extended their unbeaten start to the season to 27 games after first-half goals from skipper James Tavernier and Connor Goldson bookended Liam Smith’s strike for the hosts.
Gerrard’s first visit to Tannadice was not without controversy, however. Morelos sparked angry scenes among players and on the touchline, where United manager Micky Mellon looked particularly upset by the incident. Mellon later declined to speak about it, reasoning that “I wouldn’t want the opposition standing here talking about one of my players”.
Gerrard was also quick to try and shut down further discussion about Morelos’ challenge after being asked whether he would speak to the player. Despite Morelos being on a booking, the Rangers manager kept the out-of-touch striker on until the 73rd minute, when he was replaced by Cedric Itten. Remarking that the player was punished at the time for the foul, Gerrard stressed he saw no reason to pursue the matter any further.
“Why would I speak to him about that?” said Gerrard. “I didn't see an elbow. If you look at him again, there's no elbow there. The referee saw it and dealt with it.
“It was a foul and a yellow card and it's been dealt with. But if you look at it again, next time I see you you'll say it wasn't an elbow.”
Gerrard also defended Morelos’ performance, after the striker miskicked in front of goal on at least two occasions. The striker has only scored only two goals in his last 15 appearances and none at all in the league since September.
“These things happen,” said Gerrard. “He's not the first centre-forward that this has happened to. They have moments and phases where they are not in top form.
“He is working hard, he's doing a job for the team. His all-round play is good, he's just maybe lacking that wee bit of confidence in front of goal. That's for me to deal with and it will turn. I'm sure it will turn. He's just got to keep doing the right things and it will turn for him.”
Fortunately for Morelos and Rangers, right-back Tavernier is weighing in with the number of goals normally expected from forwards. The right back made it 17 goals and 13 assists for the season so far. He opened the scoring with a stunning 30 yard free-kick before whipping in a free kick for Goldson so score his sixth goal of the season just a minute before half-time.
In between times United right back Smith had briefly drawn his side level with a fine goal, his first for the club. Gerrard hailed his side for having the fortitude to respond on a bitterly cold afternoon on Tayside. He was particularly effusive about Tavernier’s free-kick strike.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or who you are playing for, that is a world class moment to execute it in that style from where it was,” said Gerrard. “It was a superb bit of magic.”
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