Steven Gerrard said he is considering his Rangers future after being brought crashing back down from the high of reaching the last 16 of the Europa League in midweek with a 1-0 defeat at Hearts to bow out of the Scottish Cup.
Gerrard’s men now face another trophyless season unless they can go all the way in Europe after failing to win at Tynecastle for the third time this season.
Oliver Bozanic scored the only goal just before the hour mark to put the spotlight on Gerrard’s decision to drop top scorer Alfredo Morelos for disciplinary reasons.
Morelos was suspended for Rangers’ 1-0 win in Braga on Wednesday and was given permission to fly back to Colombia, but returned to Glasgow late.
“Bitterly disappointed with the result and the outcome of the game. We got what we deserved, I thought we were second best for the majority of the game,” Gerrard told Premier Sports.
“I was the proudest man I think in the world after that performance on Thursday and I said that after the game, but that was tough to watch.
“I am responsible for that so I need to have a real, strong, long think in the next few hours.”
Rangers trail Celtic by 12 points at the top of the Scottish Premiership, albeit with a game in hand on their Glasgow rivals, and Gerrard is concerned his side lack the mentality to win tough trips on the road.
Hearts have won just four games in 14 under Daniel Stendel, but two of those have now come against Rangers.
Morelos’s omission left Gerrard short of options up front with Florian Kamberi cup-tied and Jermain Defoe only fit enough to return from injury off the bench.
“You want one of your best players available for you,” added Gerrard. “I’m either talking about this kid praising him for his goals or scratching my head because of a lot of other things.”
Referee Steven McLean infuriated both teams in a matter of seconds just before half-time as he somehow failed to award a penalty to Hearts when George Edmundson blatantly punched the ball behind.
From the resulting corner, Loic Damour used both hands to turn the ball into the Rangers net, but although the goal was disallowed, McLean did not show the Frenchman a second yellow card.
Dreadful Rangers defending then ended their chances of domestic silverware this season when James Tavernier left goalkeeper Allan McGregor in no-man’s land with a poor backwards header and Lewis Moore took full advantage, rounding the keeper before cutting back for Bozanic to sweep home.
Celtic are now huge favourites to land a fourth consecutive domestic treble of trophies as they take on St Johnstone in the quarter-finals on Sunday.
Aberdeen join Hearts and Hibernian, who beat Inverness Caledonian Thistle 5-2 on Friday, in the last four as the Dons won 2-0 at St. Mirren thanks to goals from Lewis Ferguson and Sam Cosgrove.