STEVEN Gerrard, the Rangers manager, rounded on Steve Clarke, his opposite number at Kilmarnock, yesterday as the fallout from his side’s Ladbrokes Premiership match against St Mirren grew increasingly acrimonious.

Gerrard branded Clarke, who was Liverpool assistant for a spell during his time as a player at Anfield, classless following his comments about Jermain Defoe, the Rangers striker, on Monday.

The Rugby Park manager had called on Clare Whyte, the SFA compliance officer, to initiate retrospective disciplinary proceedings against Defoe, who he didn’t mention by name, for diving to win a penalty at Ibrox on Saturday.

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The 55-year-old, whose winger Jordan Jones was suspended for two games after being found guilty of going to ground to win a spot kick in a league game against Dundee at Dens Park back in October, called for consistency in the punishments dished out to players.

But Gerrard, whose side travel to Ayrshire to play Rangers in the William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round this weekend, was clearly irked by the Scot’s remarks as he spoke to the media ahead of the Ladbrokes Premiership game against Aberdeen at Pittodrie this evening.

“I’m surprised by Steve’s comments and disappointed by them as well,” he said. “I think it lacks class when you try and get an opposition player banned for two games when you’re about to play them in two games’ time.

“We played Kilmarnock there on the astroturf and there was a clear red card on Ryan Jack right in front of us and I purposely didn’t mention it in the media out of respect for Steve Clarke and Kilmarnock and also out of respect for the player who was involved in the tackle. So I’m very disappointed that he’s trying to get one of my players banned.

“That’s not Steve Clarke or the Steve Clarke I know. He is always a man who carries himself with class. I’m disappointed by his comments. I have no plans to speak to him, but I’ll obviously be speaking to him at the weekend. It is what it is.”

Gerrard added: “I think the two situations (Jones and Defoe) are completely different. I don’t think Jermain Defoe’s was a penalty. I can understand the comments, not just from him, from the pundits too. Pundits are paid to give comments. I have been there. I respect that.

“But for an opposition manager to comment on a game that has got nothing to do with him to try and get one of my players banned is where the frustration comes in for me.

“I think the referee got three out of the four decisions right on the day. But that particular incident? I don’t think it was a penalty. But none of my players tried to appeal for a penalty. Jermain tried to jump straight back up. We didn’t give the decision, the referee gave the decision. If Steve Clarke has got a problem he should be speaking about the official and not trying to get one of my players banned.”

Asked if he thought Clarke had made his remarks because Kilmarnock were hosting Rangers in the cup this weekend, Gerrard said: “I think that’s 100 per cent what it’s got to do with it.”

Gerrard also accused his counterpart Clarke of failing to show match officials’ respect and consider the impact that public criticism can have on referees’ everyday lives.

“We had a meeting a couple of weeks ago in Perth and Steve Clarke was the only top flight manager who wasn’t there in the meeting,” he said. “We all had an agreement around the table that we would try and show officials more respect and not try and get caught up talking about them in the media.

“We have to respect their livelihoods and their families and them being able to go to supermarkets and get on with their lives after they have maybe made a mistake in certain games. I am buying into that.

“I want to show the officials more respect and understand that they are human and that make mistakes. We as managers and coaches make mistakes every game, the players do the same.

“So it’s no surprise that referees do from time to time. We all bought in to that around the table. But Steve Clarke wasn’t at the meeting. So maybe that’s the reason why he’s trying to put more pressure on Andrew Dallas.”

Gerrard added: “I think the SFA are trying to help and improve the standard of referees. It is their job to protect referees as well. So to have referees and managers in the same room gave us a flavour of what certain referees have been through after clubs have made certain statements about decisions and the amount of abuse they have had to put with.

“I think it is very important that the managers are involved because we have a big responsibility not to be going in the media and criticising decisions and officials. Especially me being a new manager. I am still trying to learn. That meeting was very important and I’m glad I went to it.”