Rangers: What are the issues facing manager Gerrard?

Rangers had to battle back against Aberdeen in the middle of week to keep their home record unbeaten
Scottish Premiership: Motherwell against Rangers Date: Sunday 31 October Time: 12:00 GMT Coverage : Listen to Sportsound commentary and get live text updates via the BBC Sport app and website

They are the reigning champions and have won every game of the league. Rangers' bid to retain the Scottish title is undergoing turmoil.

Steven Gerrard's invincibles from last season have given their competitors new hope. However, the Premiership has had a mixed start. Three teams are in striking distance of the top.

Rangers face Motherwell on Sunday. Should their fans be worried about the season thus far?

From invincible, to vulnerable

After the amazing success of Rangers' title win, a tapering was probably inevitable.

The Ibrox club won the league by an unbeatable 25-point margin. This was due to their near-impenetrable defense and impeccable home record.

Gerrard warned in pre-season that a "mentality shift" was required for his team to go from hunting to hunting.

Their stability has been hampered by nine dropped points in the opening round of fixtures, which is just three more than last season.

After 40 games, their unbeaten Premiership streak was ended by Dundee United at Tannadice. Rangers' home record is still impressive, but they lost at Ibrox in March 2020. They have since won 21 consecutive games and drawn three of their last 4.

There are many factors that can be mitigated. The squad was depleted by a Covid epidemic at the end August, forcing Gerrard to self-isolation. Injuries have also caused disruption.

Rangers players are not able to claim that they have ever achieved previous levels of performance and consistency. The collective performs in fits-and-bursts.

Opposition players who couldn't score against Gerrard's team are now capitalising on their weaknesses - Rangers have been behind nine times this season, and eight times when conceding the opener.

Rangers' defense has kept three clean sheets compared to nine at this stage last year. Their 10 conceded goals is equal to that of the 33-match regular season.

Uncertainty surrounds Connor Goldson's future. He is available to speak to clubs in January while Filip Helander, the Old Firm match-winner in August, is not expected to return from a knee injury until next year.

Jack Simpson was signed in February from Bournemouth to provide quality competition. However, he has only made one start and one appearance on the bench this season.

Kent is a significant loss amid 'issues that need to be addressed'

Rangers aren’t performing at their best on the other side of the pitch. The Rangers' 19 goals are seven less than last season's. Gerrard has called on his players to be more aggressive, especially the forwards.

Alfredo Morelos (Colombia striker) and Kemar Roofe (Kemar Roofe), are the club's top scorers in the league with four goals - three less than the league's leading marksmen. They have conversion rates of only 18% and 25%.

Ryan Kent's creative spirit has been greatly diminished since he was forced to retire in September with a hamstring injury.

Ryan Jack, a long-term absentee who has yet to kick a football this season, has stripped Rangers' defense of its steely shield. Rangers ambitions are bolstered by the fact that both players are close to a return.

Gerrard dismissed the idea that Rangers' first title in a decade is weighing down his players. While Gerrard acknowledges that Rangers have "issues and issues to address", he remains bullish.

Gerrard stated that "from an attacking perspective we need to have greater variety and give the opposition teams more to think about."

"It's a pleasure to work for a team that has lost just one league game in 50. That's something I haven’t seen or heard from the outside. It's sometimes a matter of perception.

"From the inside, I see a group boys who are willing to work hard. They also fight as hard as possible." We can go forward, I am certain."