Champions League: Questions Rangers must answer after exit against Malmo

Rangers have issues with Steven GerrardScotland started the season with two Champions League clubs for the first time in ten years. Both teams are out of the play-off stage in two weeks.After a terrible home defeat by Malmo at home, Rangers were forced to follow Celtic into the Europa League. They lost a 1-0 lead on the night and had a one-man advantage to lose to the Swedish champions at Ibrox.This season saw four games, including three losses in Europe. These European losses were straddling a Scottish Premiership that was being chastened by Dundee United. Are these temporary problems or bigger ones for Steven Gerrard's squad?BBC Scotland addresses four questions about the Scottish champions.What went wrong in Europe?After Pedro Caixinha's Rangers lost to Progress Niederkorn, Luxembourg minnows in 2017, Gerrard's arrival in Ibrox marked a turnaround in fortunes on Europe's stage.They had an unbeaten 2018 Europa League qualifying run, and they were third in their group stage. The team finished the next season in the last 16 - the same stage they reached last year.Rangers lost an alarming amount of goals even in those winning campaigns. Slavia Prague and Standard Liege scored at Ibrox twice last season, while Antwerp, Benfica, and Benfica each scored three home goals. Sporting Braga, Bayer Leverkusen and Antwerp also scored at least once in Govan last season.Malmo has scored twice this month in each leg. Gerrard resisted the suggestion that individual errors were to blame. "We got two restarts badly and paid for them" he said. He also stressed that Rangers need to learn how to better defend themselves in continental competition.Do you think it is a problem to play in front of large crowds?Gerrard asked for support from the fans to overturn his team's first-leg loss. He might have preferred an empty Ibrox, in hindsight.Rangers have lost three of the four games played in front of crowds this season. Rangers had lost just two of the six games played in front of spectators before Covid-19 ended the 2019-20 season. Rangers won an entire league season without losing and reached the final 16 of the Europa League in a time when empty stadiums were the scene.Although the sample is not large enough to conclude Gerrard's team has an issue, it is clear that the impact of the return of European fans has changed the dynamics of matches across Europe. Are Rangers' players slow to adjust to this and have they paid the price?They will have to sell players immediately.Jon Dahl Tomasson, Malmo's coach, said pre-match that Rangers "need the Champions League money". Failure to reach the group stages of the tournament will surely cost them a lot.Is this a sign that the Ibrox board is more open to player offers? Stewart Robertson, the managing director of Ibrox, stated last December that they needed to "start moving one to two players per year" in order to keep up with the club's business model.Alfredo Morelos is a long-standing link to a move. Glen Kamara has many suitors. Ryan Kent has drawn covetous gazes from the English Premier League. Perhaps Rangers will be tempted to sell James Tavernier if Nathan Paterson emerges.Richard Foster, a former Ibrox defender, stated on Sportsound that "this is going to have enormous financial implications for Rangers." We hear about how much they owe and how much each season it costs. They must sell players."Losing their most valuable assets makes them weaker." It will be difficult. There will be some movement, as they won't have the Champions League money to pay for the season.Charlie Adam, a former Ibrox player believes Rangers can ride the storm. The Dundee midfielder said that Rangers will be fine financially. They could sell one or two. Perhaps Morelos will go, but I doubt it."Ross Wilson [sporting directors], the manager, and the owners will have made plans for not getting into the Champions League. The only thing that changes is the type of player they can bring, if any.Wednesday's Scottish Daily Mail backpageCan the Europa League help restore trust?Rangers will play continental football until December, despite losing to Malmo. Alashkert from Armenia and Kairat Almaty of Kazakhstan await them in the Europa League playoff round. They meet on Thursday, with the tie at 0-0. However, losing to either of these sides would leave Rangers in the Europa Conference League group stage.Rangers may still have a successful season in Europe with this knowledge. Rangers have proven their ability to shine on the group stage in past seasons, and there could be more big European nights in the future.Adam said, "They're in Europa League qualifiers." "If they get past that and make it to the group stage, they'll still be able to make money."But winning the Premiership is the most important thing for them. That gives you automatic qualification to the Champions League next season."