IF only the either/or question was as simple to answer as it was to ask for Rangers.

It has been posed to Steven Gerrard several times during his two seasons at Ibrox and it is no easier to get to the bottom of now, in any context, than it was at first.

Would you give up a cup run if you meant you win the league? Can you downplay Europe to boost your chances of Premiership success?

Gerrard knows full well that he can’t choose. Even if he did, he would still want it all.

The fact that he has nothing to show for his efforts, in terms of silverware at least, from two campaigns as manager will undoubtedly hurt the 40-year-old, yet it will also have sharpened his focus and peaked his determination once again now that he has embarked on his third crack at the title, the cup competitions and the Europa League.

There is a danger that there may not be a fourth. If the league isn’t won or a cup collected, a decision will have to be made over Gerrard’s future at Ibrox next summer.

It would be natural, then, for him to put all of his eggs in one basket, to put every resource towards trying to win the Premiership this term.

Forget about stopping ten-in-a-row. Rangers need to win the league for themselves, not to deny Old Firm rivals Celtic.

Gerrard will always be judged against what goes on across the city and his legacy at Rangers will be defined, as it was at Liverpool, by his successes or failures.

If you could guarantee right now that Rangers would be crowned champions in May, there would surely be an overwhelming majority of fans that would sacrifice everything else this term. They wouldn’t care who won the cups and the Europa League would be given up in a heartbeat if it meant the red, white and blue ribbons would be on the league trophy for the first time in a decade.

Football, of course, doesn’t work like that, though. And neither does Gerrard.

A club that is built on success has a manager that craves silverware but there is pleasure and satisfaction to be taken from achievements that aren’t rewarded with medals.

The Europa League is the case in point. The extra games may put a strain on Gerrard’s squad, the fixtures may take the focus off domestic matters but those nights under the floodlights can’t be swapped.

As Rangers prepare to embark on another continental campaign against Lincoln Red Imps this evening, the query has again been put to Gerrard.

“That’s a very difficult question,” Gerrard said when asked if the Premiership has to be the be-all and end-all for Rangers this term. “We all know how important the league is every single year.

“That goes without saying but what people need to understand is that, for us, European football is vital. It’s key to the club moving forward.

“So, at this stage, there’s no possible way that I can prioritise in terms of one competition against the other. People need to realise that for this club to function in a healthy way we need to be successful in qualifying for European competitions.”

When Rangers travelled to Gibraltar last term, few could have predicted that the Europa League adventure would eventually end in Leverkusen at the last 16 stage. In extraordinary circumstances, it was a remarkable campaign.

Gerrard had already gone some way to restoring Rangers’ reputation on the continent by leading his side into the group stages at the first time of asking and some of those nights will live long in the memory for the manager, his players and supporters.

Take two was even better, though. A year on from a nerve-shredding night in Ufa, Legia Warsaw were beaten on an incredible evening of drama and emotion at Ibrox.

With their chances of winning the competition slim, European action is all about moments for Rangers. And those against Porto, Feyenoord, Young Boys and Braga were some of the best that fans have had in years.

Once the heart stops racing and the sporting achievement is grasped, the financial reality sets in. For Rangers right now, that cannot be underestimated.

Had group stage football not be secured in Gerrard’s first season, would Ryan Kent have been around for his second? Had the feat not been repeated last term, could he have strengthened as he has done in a Covid-impacted market?

The importance of the income from European football was repeatedly stressed by former chairman Dave King and the reality remains as true today. It may not be the big bucks that the Champions League brings, but the millions banked from UEFA have gone a long way to funding the progress that Rangers have made over the last two seasons.

From a sporting sense, Gerrard will never want to down play any competition and a demanding and expectant support would never allow him to. But the Europa League is arguably more important to his Ibrox bosses than it is to fans.

As a club, Rangers need to be operating at the highest level possible, to be striving for the best in every area on and off the park. That means competing in Europe, not just turning up and taking the money every year.

Gerrard has done just that in successive seasons and now he needs to make it a hat-trick.

There is a different dynamic to the qualification process this term and the one-leg ties and no Ibrox crowd could prove to be a disadvantage for Rangers as they look to take care of Lincoln and then dispatch Willem II in the next round.

To reach the group stages for a third consecutive season would be a hugely impressive and significant achievement for Gerrard. He won’t get a medal for it, but that doesn’t mean it can be overlooked in a season where silverware is a must.