Alex Rae had urged Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s fragile Rangers squad to stand up to the pressure of playing for the Ibrox club ahead of their Champions League group stage clash against Napoli on Wednesday night.
It has been a European campaign to forget for the Light Blues as they travel to face the free-scoring Group A leaders at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in their penultimate match.
After their humiliating 7-1 loss to Liverpool at Ibrox on matchday four, a trip to one of the competiton’s most in-form sides could prove a daunting prospect for a Gers side who has mustered just a single goal and have a goal difference of -15 - the worst of any side this season.
It was always going to be a difficult section for last season’s Europa League finalists, but they have struggled to compete at Europe’s elite level and there is little evidence to suggest Rangers can improve on the 3-0 defeat to the Serie A outfit at Ibrox in the reverse fixture last month.
With pressure mounting on Van Bronckhorst after a poor run of results and performance, Rae knows his side can’t afford anoter heavy defeat after their Liverpool horror show.
He told Grosvenor Sport: “The one thing you can’t be doing is dropping points against, with the greatest of respect, teams like Livingston - especially at Ibrox. When Rangers won the league title a couple of years ago they were very strong at home so this will be a concern for everyone at the club.
“When you play for a club like Rangers, pressure is very much part of the game and the players have to stand up to the pressure because that’s part and parcel of playing for the club as that’s the demands of the supporters.
“They’ll be feeling a sigh of relief after negotiating through the win against Dundee in the cup because they weren’t great on the night. Everyone at Rangers wants a bit more pace in their play because at the moment it’s very ponderous.
“Their performances have been flat lately and that will be a concern for Giovanni van Bronckhorst as they’ve got a tough run of fixtures coming up. They’ve got Napoli on Wednesday and they need to really perform well to get a result against them - they can’t afford another heavy defeat after that performance against Liverpool.”
Contract talks remain ongoing with out-of-form duo Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos and Rae believes their situation could be having a negative affect Rangers domestic form, insisting both players need to take more responsibility.
He added: “The players have to take more responsibility for their performances. It’s an interesting one with Ryan Kent because he’s been performing at a very good level for a couple of years now and along with Alfredo (Morelos), they’ve not really got them to where they want them to be.
“Kent is lacking confidence and Morelos hasn’t got up to speed with things yet and I’m not sure if their contract situations have had a bearing on that - we’ve definitely seen it before with players like Ryan Christie and Odsonne Édouard not performing at the tail end of their contracts which had an effect on Celtic.”