Steven Gerrard's F-word rant risks Old Firm ban and missing Rangers title celebrations

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Roddy Forsyth
·6 min read
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Rangers Manager Steven Gerrard remonstrates with Referee John Beaton at half time during Rangers 1-0 victory over Livingston - Getty Images
Rangers Manager Steven Gerrard remonstrates with Referee John Beaton at half time during Rangers 1-0 victory over Livingston - Getty Images

A display of admirable doggedness by Alfredo Morelos put Rangers within touching distance of an epochal title win this weekend, although whether Steven Gerrard will be in the dugout to witness it remains to be seen.

The manager was shown a red card at half-time of this win at Livingston for protesting against the injustice done to Morelos, who was denied a sound penalty – and booked wrongly for simulation – but was delivered from ultimate frustration by the South American’s late intervention.

Gerrard let rip at the referee at half-time, who responded by flashing two yellow cards. Gerrard was picked up by TV microphones ranting, "You were f------ bang wrong. You're bang out of order".

He continued to press home his belief that Rangers were on the end of a major injustice after the victory. "It's a blatant penalty, it's a stonewaller," he said. "I'm someone who wants to support officials because we are all human and we will make a mistake.

"But what I can't stand for at this level is three people making the same mistake. They all had clear views of it. I could see it and I'm the furthest away.

"There are three officials at this level who all got it wrong together - I can't have that. I asked for an explanation and he refused to speak to me. I think I'm entitled to a conversation but obviously not.

"You are talking about officials at a top level of the game.

"The linesman is looking straight at it with nothing in his way. The fourth official is looking straight at it with nothing in his way, because I was behind him and I could see it clear. And the referee is right on top of him.

"I'll go with a mistake from one of them but not three. It's not right, it's not fair. It's a stonewaller and it's bang out of order."

Gerrard now faces an Old Firm sweat. The matter does not fall under the Scottish Football Association's fast-track procedures so there is no set deadline for Hampden disciplinary chiefs to decide how long a punishment to hand out.

With Rangers potentially set for a Premiership title party when they head to Celtic Park on March 21, Gerrard could be forced to watch the celebrations from the stand if his case is decided early.

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But he said: "I'm not worried. I'm looking forward to beating St Mirren. That's my only worry. If someone wants to stop me being on the side of a pitch, don't worry - I'll celebrate when the time comes."

Livingston’s involvement in Sunday’s Scottish League Cup final against St Johnstone left Rangers with a free weekend to recover from their exertions in last Thursday’s Europa League victory over Antwerp at Ibrox, but also meant that David Martindale’s players had to lift themselves after their defeat by the Perth side at Hampden Park.

Intriguingly, however, the Tony Macaroni Arena was the only domestic venue at which Rangers had not posted a victory this season, having drawn 0-0 on their previous visit on Aug 16.

Rangers were without injured James Tavernier, Ryan Jack, Kemar Roofe and Leon Balogun. In Balogun’s absence, Nathan Patterson got his first start in place of Tavernier at right-back. Ianis Hagi dropped to the bench, with Scott Arfield starting in midfield.

The opening quarter followed a pattern seen before at this ground as both teams played the pressing game, with Rangers going longer than usual in an attempt to spring Morelos free between the Livingston back line and their goalkeeper, Max Stryjek, who had replaced Robby McCrorie because the usual first choice could not face his parent club. Almost midway through the first half, Livingston’s momentum was disrupted when Gavin Reilly pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury, to be replaced by Scott Robinson.

Alfredo Morelos of Rangers celebrates scoring the only goal of the game during Rangers 1-0 victory over Livingston at Tony Macaroni Arena on March 03, 2021 in Livingston, Scotland - Getty Images
Alfredo Morelos of Rangers celebrates scoring the only goal of the game during Rangers 1-0 victory over Livingston at Tony Macaroni Arena on March 03, 2021 in Livingston, Scotland - Getty Images

Even so, it was Livingston who generated the first obvious danger, when Jason Holt’s shot was blocked by Filip Helander’s outstretched leg. That seemed to be a wake-up call for Joe Aribo, who began to impose himself on the proceedings.

As a consequence, Rangers began to enjoy significantly more possession and a consequence was a series of corner kicks, from one of which Helander met the delivery from Borna Barisic with a full-blooded header that swept narrowly over.

Arfield came similarly close before the interval from a Ryan Kent cutback, a development which ­followed a flashpoint which left Rangers aggrieved.

Morelos, chasing a through ball, hurdled Stryjek as the goalkeeper threw himself down in an attempt to block. There was contact that toppled the striker, but referee John Beaton saw it as simulation and cautioned the Colombian, who made less of his indignation than he might have.

Not so Gerrard, who strode on to the field at half-time to confront the referee and was shown the yellow card twice, presumably having ­protested both the dismissal of the penalty claim and the subsequent sanction for Morelos. The manager’s dismissal confined him to the stand, a few rows behind the technical area he had vacated.

Gerrard’s frustration was matched by that of his players as they battered at the yellow cordon in front of Stryjek without reward. Connor Goldson had the ball in the net just after the interval with a header from a Barisic free-kick, but the defender was flagged offside.

A display of fireworks outside the ground enlivened the evening, but Rangers could not propel themselves to victory despite a series of chances which fell to Morelos. The striker fashioned one such opportunity by fending off two opponents for a low shot which swept wide, as did his next attempt, when he had been set up by Glen Kamara.

Morelos’s profligacy continued at a Barisic corner, headed on by Goldson and again steered off target. The forward, though, had not exhausted his reserves of persistence and his moment finally arrived when a Steven Davis shot was parried by Stryjek to the feet of Morelos, who had only to roll the ball across the line to take Rangers three points closer to their first title in 10 years.

Match details

Livingston (4-2-3-1) Stryjek; Devlin, Fitzwater, Guthrie, Serrano; Bartley, Holt (Lawson 67); Mullin, Pitman, Sibbald, Reilly (Robinson 21, Tiffoney 75)
Subs: Maley (g), Kabia, McMillan, Ambrose, Taylor-Sinclair, Lawson, Forrest
Booked: Guthrie, Sibbald, Devlin, Holt, Serrano, Stryjek,

Rangers (4-3-3): McGregor; Patterson, Goldson, Helander, Barisic; Arfield (Itten 72), Davis, Kamara; Aribo, Morelos, Kent (Zungu 90)
Subs: McLaughlin (g), Bassey, Simpson, Hagi, Defoe, Wright
Booked: Morelos, McGregor. Referee John Beaton.