The former Liverpool and England midfielder couldn’t have asked for a tougher job for his first foray into management.
Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will now take over from Graeme Murty as the manager of Scottish side Rangers. The appointment came out of left field in the footballing world as no-one expected the former Liverpool midfielder to take up a job as big as this early on in his managerial career.
Gerrard was a Red for over 19 years and featured for them in 710 matches. He played for England in 114 matches and was club captain for more than a decade. Gerrard was offered the job at MK Dons when he announced that he was getting into management, but he rejected that to gain some valuable experience and joined Liverpool’s academy at Melwood.
Gerrard led the young Reds to an inspiring start to the league and also had the opportunity to take part in the UEFA Youth League. In his 22 matches as a manager in the U-18 league, he managed to win 11 matches and his team never failed to score in any game until he was at the helm. In the competition, Gerrard’s team knocked out bitter rivals, Manchester United in the Round of 16 and he took them to the quarterfinals, where they were knocked out on penalties by Manchester City. Having managed a total of 31 games, he has won 17 of them, lost nine and drawn five.
Watch: Steven Gerrard unveiled as the Rangers manager
On May 4th, he was announced as the manager of Rangers on a four-year deal starting next season. Club Managing Director Stewart Robinson said that he fully believed that Gerrard was the right man for them. “We believe we have appointed the perfect man to manage our club at this time.”
The former Liverpool and England captain and now Rangers manager sounded optimistic about the journey that he was about to embark on with The Light Blues. “I can’t wait to start this new journey at Rangers as we look to build on the many successes that this club has achieved.”
Gerrard further confirmed that former Liverpool player Gary McAllister and former Liverpool academy coach Michael Beale would join his backroom team.
Gary was the first-team coach under Brendan Rogers for the Pools
Gerrard’s young Liverpool side alternated between three formations. They played a 3-4-3, 4-2-3-1 and a traditional 4-4-2. Similarly, Rangers also have been fielding a 4-2-3-1 predominantly this season and it will most likely be the formation that new manager will be using as well.
Gerrard has already set his eyes on recruiting some big English talent and if Rangers wasn’t a favoured destination for budding young players, thanks to Gerrard, players will want to play under this seasoned veteran of the game.
Turning around Rangers will be no easy task for Gerrard. They have fallen so far behind their bitter rivals Celtic in recent years, that Gerard’s job is sure to be a thankless one. Rangers and Celtic is one of the biggest mismatches in terms of derbies these days. The only thing that makes it feel like a derby is an atmosphere that comes with the match.
In their four year stint in the lower divisions, Rangers have indeed taken big strides to get back on their feet, but Celtic have taken strides that are three-folds bigger. Financially and by pure footballing means, Celtic have pulled much ahead of the Gers. This was quite evident when Rangers were humbled 5-0 in the recent Old Firm Derby which saw Celtic clinch their seventh straight title.
The Scottish Premiership has become a mere formality with Celtic’s meteoric rise. Indeed, no sane fan will tip Rangers to challenge for the title in the coming years with Stevie’s appointment. Gerrard’s former boss Brendan Rodgers has now won all the 11 Old Firm derbies that he has been a part of.
The former Liverpool midfielder has to steer this uninspired ship to brighter shores. Nonetheless, putting a person who has no senior-team management experience in the spotlight at a time like this is a bold move. If Rangers wanted international attention, they have that now. If they wanted a big name in their ranks, they have that too. If they wanted someone to attract players to the club, that’s a tick as well.
Will all this guarantee success for Rangers? Most probably not. but the former Reds midfielder is not a man to shy away from challenges. He’s had his fair share of highs and lows in his career and he has the fire in him to help him achieve what he wants.
But, he will need people around him to listen to him and will need to rely more on intellect and decision-making rather than on brute force and a cracker of a right foot. This is a huge step for Gerrard as the fans of the Blue Noses are among the most demanding fans in football.
So, what is an acceptable feat for Steven Gerrard? If the Kop hero can steady the ship and slowly give the club an identity of playing good football, that will be a great start. Although you cannot negate challenging Celtic, it is okay to accept that for Rangers to get to where the Celts are, it is going to take them a long time. With Steven Gerrard at the helm, they have given the Ibrox a new lease of hope and a with Rangers showing gradual improvement since their 16/17 season, Gerrard can come in, gather his troops and put his foot down.
The move is still a very big punt, it may or may not work but if the fans are going to be hasty with the Liverpool man, it will do the club no good.
Gerrard represents a new breed of English managers coming into the game and is a welcome change. They bring with them fresh ideologies and a surprise factor. The stage is set for the Liverpool legend and with the expectations of many on his shoulder, will Gerrard steer Rangers to success? Only time will tell.