SCOTTISH football has sometimes been described as a soap opera with a sprinkling of football. Pick up any paper or watch any of the highlights programmes from the last three weeks, and that theory would be vindicated.

Controversies about referees, storms about decisions, debates over VAR, rammies between managers and rows over plastic pitches, it’s all been there and it is all part of what makes the game here so wonderfully captivating. The concern may be though that the main storyline, that this is the most exciting and most keenly fought season in years in terms of where the honours will end up, may be lost amid the noise.

None of this has come as a shock to Steven Gerrard. The Rangers manager was well used to a similar environment during his time as captain of Liverpool, so he knows the game and he plays it well. He will be forthright with his opinion on any subject that is put to him, but he is keen to now shift the topic of conversation back on to the things that really matter; what goes on between those white lines during the 90 minutes.

“It’s the same down in England as well,” Gerrard said. “What we all want and what we should all strive for – the media, the SFA, players, managers – is to talk about the football and the players. That’s what we’re all here for, to talk about the games, the contests, the head-to-heads, the individuals.

“For me, we should be talking about [Scott] McKenna and Alfredo [Morelos] and how competitive that battle is and how lucky we are to sample that every so often, rather than talking about how long they are going to miss. We need to try and focus more on football.”

But if controversy is Scottish football’s drug of choice, how easy will it be to shake it? Even for Gerrard.

“That’s just the way it is,” he said. “When you break it all down, I’ve been pretty strong with my opinions on plastic pitches and where I am on it. In terms of the SFA and the officials, I’m one who will try to back and support and accept decisions, but with an eye on hopefully trying to get it more consistent and a better process. In terms of going toe to toe with managers and decisions, I think we need to try to maybe move on from it, because you have to think about the type of game that is in question here.

Aberdeen v Rangers had everything. It had a top centre-back and a top centre-forward having an absolute war on the pitch which was fascinating to watch. Aberdeen finished the game the stronger team, it was a night game under the lights at Pittodrie and it was an unbelievable game.

“The people that watched it and I had feedback off, they absolutely loved watching it. I’m sure there is going to be another one if we manage to get through Kilmarnock [on Wednesday night], which is great for everyone to look forward to.

“It’s only normal that some of these decisions will be up for debate, the shame for me was that it ended 10 v 10. For me, there should have been common sense applied and let’s see that battle for the 90 minutes, because I was absolutely loving it.”

Meanwhile, one man who has been out of the spotlight of late is Rangers midfielder Lassana Coulibaly.

The 22-year-old was impressive during his early days at Ibrox following a summer loan move from French outfit Angers, but has found his game-time limited of late as competition intensifies in the Rangers midfield.

But Gerrard believes there still could be a long-term future for the player at Ibrox, even though bringing him to the club on a permanent basis may be difficult due to finances.

“We still rate Lassana,” he said. “What we have to say is that competition for midfield places is really tense here. Lassana in the first four or five months of the season was very consistent. He had a couple of injuries and a family issue, that we believe hit him a bit. He came off his form for a spell but in the last couple of weeks he’s shown signs of how he was at the beginning of the season.

“What we’ve learned pretty quickly from domestic and European football is that games are very different and you need different types of players for different challenges. There’s certainly a place and a part for Lassana to play between now and the end of the season.

“[Then] it’s a big consideration for us. We like the player but there’s a lot of things involved — price, salary, his contract situation at his club. We don’t know if there will be any interest from other clubs. So, it’s a complicated one right now, but we do have confidence and we do like the player.”

So fevered has the battle for midfield places become that returning hero Steven Davis has even found it hard to break into the Rangers side.

“I believe we a good variety of midfielders now,” Gerrard said. “We have created a competition where they’re all desperate to play, so they all need to be in form.

“I think with both Steven and Jermain [Defoe] have missed an awful lot of football.

“They’ve come in and the intensity of the league, the games and how we want to play, means it was always going to take a bit of time to get them up to speed.

“We have every confidence that in the coming weeks you will see the best of Steven Davis.”