sport news Five questions Steven Gerrard must ask after Rangers' Scottish Cup shambles

You suspect Steven Gerrard has done far more thinking than sleeping ever since the final whistle sounded at Tynecastle on Saturday evening.

The premature end of domestic trophy hopes for a second successive season was a brutal blow to the Rangers manager. More than that, however, the abject performance of his team in such a crucial assignment left Gerrard admitting he had hit his lowest point since being appointed in the summer of 2018.

While there is no immediate prospect of the 39-year-old walking away from his first managerial post, Gerrard was clear about the need for some soulsearching as he sought answers to the form crisis that has wrecked hopes of success in Scotland since the winter break.

Only the former captain of Liverpool and England knows exactly what has been dominating his thoughts during the past 48 hours. But, here, Sportsmail takes a look at five key questions that may have been circulating around Gerrard’s mind. 

Steven Gerrard must ask five key questions after Chelsea's shock Scottish Cup defeat

Steven Gerrard must ask five key questions after Chelsea's shock Scottish Cup defeat

 1. WHO CAN I REALLY TRUST WITHIN THIS SQUAD? 

This would seem the most obvious of all. On Saturday evening, Gerrard questioned whether his desperation to see Rangers win was matched by the players on the pitch.

While far from the first time he has delivered forthright criticism, this felt different. As if his competitive instincts had been insulted one too many times by the mentality of those he sent out to do battle.

Former Rangers striker Billy Dodds believes the ‘mainstays’ — including captain James Tavernier — are now under threat. Gerrard has consistently selected a senior core within his team but may now feel that an element of change is needed.

No one questions what Tavernier brings to Rangers in an attacking sense. Whether the right-back is the right man to captain the club is a different debate.

Gerrard must ask himself who he can trust within Rangers' squad and who will let him down

Gerrard must ask himself who he can trust within Rangers' squad and who will let him down

Tavernier’s error was costly against Hearts but some others within Gerrard’s leadership group, which includes Connor Goldson, Steven Davis, the injury-hampered Ryan Jack and goalkeeper Allan McGregor, have encountered issues since the winter break.

Then there is Alfredo Morelos. Leaving out the Colombian after he returned late from a sanctioned trip to his homeland was unquestionably a bold decision but Gerrard clearly felt it was necessary. Time and again, Morelos has tested his authority through disciplinary lapses.

The 29-goal striker’s ban and subsequent form decline following his dive at Celtic Park has been a significant factor in the Ibrox club’s woes.

2. HOW SHOULD THE SQUAD CHANGE? 

If Gerrard is to go again and attempt to stop Celtic winning ten-in-a-row, another summer of flux now looks nigh-on inevitable.

Support would come from the Ibrox board but funds could also be raised through the sale of existing assets. Rangers are far stronger in this area than before Gerrard arrived.

Morelos still carries the biggest price tag, even if some suitors will look again at his 2020 form and the way he let Gerrard (right) down last week. A summer exit could now suit all parties and bring in finance to be reinvested.

Borna Barisic’s agent has also gone public on his expectation his client will move on before next term. The Croatia left-back cost £1.5 million in August 2018, with the likes of Roma, Napoli and AC Milan considering offering Rangers a significant return on that outlay.

Rangers could look to sell Alfredo Morelos and use his transfer fee to reinvest in the squad

Rangers could look to sell Alfredo Morelos and use his transfer fee to reinvest in the squad

Another sizeable profit could be banked on Glen Kamara. The Finland midfielder, signed from Dundee for a mere £50,000, remains on the radar of a number of English Premier League clubs. Fringe figures including Jordan Jones, Brandon Barker and Jon Flanagan, whose contract is ending, are likely to be moved on.

Some gaps could be filled through youth — with Nathan Patterson taking Flanagan’s squad place, for example — but spending money on additions of quality with the right profile will be an obvious key requirement.

In that regard,

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