Is Steven Gerrard on a hiding to nothing at Rangers?
The former Champions League winner begins his first foray into management this week. But what can he realistically achieve?
“Scottish football must make the most of Steven Gerrard at Rangers,” declared Ewan Murray in The Guardian recently. For many, though, the former-Liverpool man is on a hiding to nothing.
How can a fresh-faced newly appointed 37-year-old manager be expected to find success in Glasgow given Celtic’s brilliant dominance under Brendan Rodgers in his first major role?
Gerrard has little chance of overhauling his former manager to put Rangers top of the Scottish football tree. For one, the Northern Irishman is far more experienced managerially, with a sound knowledge of in-game tactics.
Aged just 45, Rodgers has already achieved so much north of the border, becoming the first manager in Celtic history to win his opening three games against Rangers, alongside masterminding his side’s 63 domestic game unbeaten run, surpassing a 100-year British-held record, set by Willie Maley’s Celtic team.
Add to that, two Scottish Premiership winners medals, two Scottish League Cups, and a Scottish Cup, with another final against Motherwell set for this Saturday leaving Rodgers on the verge of winning consecutive domestic trebles.
The former Reading boss also has form for mixing it with the best coaches in the world having served his coaching apprenticeship under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. Although Gerrard has enjoyed a stint coaching Liverpool’s youth teams under Jurgen Klopp, his fundamental coaching experience is a far cry from that of his now main managerial adversary.
Rodgers also guided Swansea to the Premier League and consolidated the Welsh club’s position in the division whilst playing a critically acclaimed brand of impressive, stylish passing football. He then moved on to Liverpool, and with Gerrard as his captain, narrowly missed out on a famous Premier League winner’s medal.
Can Gerrard be a modern-day Graeme Souness?
And it’s true, Graeme Souness did make a similar move to Rangers 32 years ago, but crucially he was backed by cold, hard cash, and an English European ban, where he could compete with Europe’s top clubs.
Gerrard does not have the necessary spending power on his side to overhaul Celtic team with enormous strength in depth. Craig Gordon, Scott Brown, Moussa Dembele, Kieran Tierney, Scott Sinclair, Tom Rogic… the list of quality Scottish Premiership players Celtic has to pick from outweighs that of Rangers, and by some margin.
Rangers legend Ally McCoist summed the situation up excellently on TalkSport days before Gerrard was officially appointed:
“It doesn’t matter who gets that job, you can give it anybody, you can give it to Guardiola, Mourinho, Steven Gerrard. If they don’t get the money to buy better quality players, they’ll continue to finish second behind Celtic. That’s the bottom line.”
Throw into the mix that England’s former captain will have an absentee chairman in constant dispute with the takeover panel; two senior players suspended after a dressing room dispute; accounts which illustrate a business kept afloat by director loans and a recently jettisoned interim manager who had been in his position since October to contend with.
If Gerrard finds success in Glasgow, he will have pulled off an exceptional feat.
Do you think this is a good career move for Gerrard? Let us know in the comments section below.