JON FLANAGAN reckons Rangers put out a statement of intent with a 5-1 victory over St Johnstone that moved them up to second spot in the Premiership.

Steven Gerrard’s side leapfrogged Old Firm rivals Celtic as they capitalised on their shock defeat to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park and ran out impressive winners at Ibrox.

The Light Blues were four points adrift of Brendan Rodgers’ side after the first derby clash of the campaign at the start of the month but are now only behind Hearts in the standings.

Flanagan said: “Our main aim was to get the win on the board. We can’t control what they do.

“We just want to keep picking up points and see where it takes us.

“There was a few updates although the game was still going on before we went out for the warm-up.

“Some of us didn’t [know the score] so to come in after the game and find out they had got beat was great.

“The manager wants us to believe. He has installed that and has urged us to keep going.

“It is early days at the minute and we are not focusing on them. Our main aim is to keep picking up three points and do as well in the cups as possible.

“It is massive and all the lads knew before the game that it was very important coming off the back of Villarreal.

“We needed to put a statement out there and needed to pick up three points. We will go again on Wednesday. We will come in [today] recover and go again.

“I think [this result was a statement], yeah. I think we all knew we had to put on a good performance today and we showed that.”

Rangers turned in a superb showing to see off the Saints as James Tavernier, Alfredo Morelos, Scott Arfield, Kyle Lafferty and Daniel Candeias found the net.

And Flanagan reckons the mentality of boss Gerrard shone through as the Gers followed up their Europa League efforts with a crucial Premiership three points.

He said: “I think everyone is delighted with that, especially on the back of Thursday against Villarreal. The main aim was to get three points and we managed to do that.

“From the off we were ruthless. The manager said before the game to be ruthless and not to give them a break.

“We got our first two goals before half-time and after the break he told us to keep our foot on the gas. We just kept going and I think we could have scored a few more.

“The quality of the goals was also pleasing. We have been working hard on our little combinations in training and I think that showed in the game.”

The Saints clash gave Flanagan a chance to come back into the starting line-up as he replaced Borna Barisic at left-back once again.

And the former Liverpool defender reckons the competition for places within Gerrard’s squad can only be a positive ahead of a tough campaign at home and abroad this term.

He said: “I think we have got two players for every position now and it is healthy competition. You are always going to have a battle on your hands but it is good for the team and rotation is good to keep the legs fresh. It is going to benefit the lads.

“You have got to keep your head up and when your chance comes you have got to be ready. It is a long season and everyone is going to be needed.”