THE blueprint has been drawn and the foundations are in place. Now Steven Gerrard wants to really start building at Ibrox.

Six weeks after he officially began life as Rangers manager and four since he got down to business with his players, Gerrard has ticked a key box.

The 2-0 aggregate win over FK Shkupi won’t be remembered fondly come the end of the campaign but it was the first piece of the competitive jigsaw for Gerrard and one that had to, no matter the performances, be put in place.

Read more: Steven Gerrard: Rangers strikeforce must show their quality or I will bolster the Ibrox attack

The coming days will give the 38-year-old a chance to reflect on the good and the bad, the positives and the negatives, from his opening two matches as boss.

At one end of the park, the back-to-back clean sheets are undoubtedly a plus mark, even considering the relative paucity of the Shkupi attack and the lack of creativity in the Macedonian ranks.

But it is at the other where more work must to be done. Two goals may have been enough to win the tie, but they weren’t enough to satisfy supporters.

Gerrard won’t be content either. He has seen where Rangers have come from and knows where they are but, crucially, he has another insight into how they can get to where they need to be.

“The game management was really good,” Gerrard said. “The emphasis was on them to come to us and we thought they would come more and take more risks, but it seemed like they were just happy.

“The chance we had with (Glenn) Middleton at the end, he will learn and go across the keeper. I asked Ovie (Ejaria) to go on and open the door and he opened the door and done well again.

“I am mixed about the performance. I am really happy there is a base and something for us to improve on but slightly concerned about the chances being missed by the team, not individuals.

“I thought we should have won the game. We have done the job but we should have won the game. The way I look at it, I am well aware of the questions that will come and it is going to get harder.

Read more: Steven Gerrard: Rangers strikeforce must show their quality or I will bolster the Ibrox attack

“We need to keep improving, keep raising the standards and we need players who are going to back themselves in the final third.

“We can’t keep relying on clean sheets and organisation and shape to get us over the line because sooner rather than later that won’t happen.”

The defeat to Progres Niederkon 12 months ago was always going to feature prominently in the talk around the Shkupi clash but Gerrard’s side didn’t make the same mistakes as Pedro Caixinha and his players on that night in Luxembourg.

Having safely overcome the first challenge, Rangers can now look ahead to another continental contest and Osijek or Petrocub await in the next round.

“I think it is more of a block and a hurdle for the players that experienced it last year,” Gerrard said.

“I knew and I was aware of what we had to do at this stage and it was about progression.

“But, as I say, the chances over the two games, we should never have gone into that second game having to put in what we have just put in.

“We should have had it wrapped up. But, at the same time, it is very early, we are a work in progress and I am confident we will improve.

“It is difficult to gauge but without a shadow of a doubt [we will have to step it up in the next round]. In my experience of any European competition, as soon as you get over one hurdle the next becomes that bit tougher to get over.”

By the time Rangers take to the field in Croatia or Moldova next week, Gerrard may well have made his next move in the market as the Light Blues look to continue their summer recruitment drive.

Read more: Steven Gerrard: Rangers strikeforce must show their quality or I will bolster the Ibrox attack

The most recent arrivals, Lassana Coulibaly and Umar Sadiq, will be available for the second round and Gerrard knows there will be safety, and strength, in quality this term.

He said: “I think the squad is big enough for us to manage and I don’t think at this stage we can talk about the games coming thick and fast.

“If we are to progress all the way through it will make our numbers bigger at the end of the season and it does take your volume of games up.

“But that is why we need a big, strong squad and players capable of coming in and out. It is not going to be the same eleven every week when you are playing Thursday, Sunday, Thursday, Sunday.

“That is why you have a squad. I think in terms of depth we are getting there and the squad is improving and getting better but it is going to take time.”

Gerrard and his players have set no public targets regarding what they hope to achieve in the Europa League over the coming days, weeks or, perhaps, months.

The start of the Premiership campaign on August 5 is certainly a key date on the calendar, though, and Gerrard is keen to build some momentum ahead of the domestic kick-off at Pittodrie.

He said: “I think that will help, if we get it right. Now we have to dust ourselves down and get ourselves ready for going away in the next leg.

“I am pleased that we have got a base and a platform to build on in terms of our shape and our distances and how we looked, I thought that was good.

“I am delighted with another clean sheet but if we are going to progress against that teams that are going to get better and better we need players who are going to be top players in the final third."