STEVEN GERRARD is confident Rangers have the bottle for the title battle after warning his players a repeat of their Tynecastle no-show will kill their Premiership dreams.

The Ibrox boss admitted he ‘didn’t recognise’ his side as they crashed to a costly 2-1 defeat against Hearts that leaves Rangers five points adrift of Celtic at the top of the table.

Ryan Kent gave the Gers the lead early in the second half but goals from Steven Naismith and Liam Boyce earned the bottom of the pile Jambos a huge victory.

Gerrard said: “I think, before today’s game, obviously Celtic were waiting for us to blink. Today we’ve blinked. Big time.

“And I’m not sure there will be too many blinks from now to the end.

“So we need to try to avoid that level of performance from now until the end of the season.

“Otherwise we might not even be in a title race – never mind competing for the league.

“Listen, if you want to ask questions about bottle towards me and my players, feel free. I totally understand it, sitting here right now. I would totally understand it right now.

“Before today, I would have said they did [have the bottle]. Now? I don’t know. We’ll see. We’ll see in our reaction.

“If I take the emotion out of how I’m feeling right now, yes, I do feel we’ve got the bottle.

“That’s my job now, to reset it and go again. Normally after a setback, we react really well.

“But this is the first setback where I’ve been really disappointed in both sides of the game.

“So, if there is any criticism or questions like that, we have to take them on the chin.”

This was the second time this term that Rangers have failed to perform away to Hearts and it could prove to be a costly defeat as Celtic were handed the momentum in the title race.

The trip to Tynecastle was Gerrard’s 100th game in charge of the Gers and the 39-year-old was clearly upset and angry with the manner of a lacklustre performance in the Capital.

Gerrard said: “The last time we were here, it was 15 to 20 minutes. Today, it was 90 minutes. That’s the difference.

“But in terms of how you start a football match, it’s been the same on both occasions here.

“We can’t hide behind the fact that over the course of the 90 minutes we created the better chances because that’s not what wins you football matches.

“We got in at 0-0 at half-time, not having played well in the first half. We tried to get into a few.

“We had a problem with Ryan Jack, who has a calf issue, so we made a change in midfield.

“We changed the right-back because I didn’t recognise Jon Flanagan in the first half and he was on a yellow card.

“We tried to reset the situation at half-time and did really well for a couple of minutes and got ourselves in front. The game was there for us to build on that but we fell straight back into what was happening in the first half - second best, not competing.

“It’s probably the first time in 100 games that I haven’t recognised us in and out of possession.”