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Rangers/Stevie Gerrard 2020/21

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8 minutes ago, neopulian said:

I'm certain Rangers supporters will absolutely be okay with winning the next 9 and losing the 10th to Celtic. 

No it'll be the end of the World.

 

Well done Gerrard!

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2 hours ago, Bjornebye said:

The Celtic fans you are moaning about Rob. Pack it in 

 

That just about sums you up. Call yourself a socialist.

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6 hours ago, Mook said:

My brother just sent me this, the podcast for Celtic's game today...

 

IMG-20210307-WA0006.jpg

Frances looks like shes been sucking on a glass pipe all night. the others look like lockdown is having an effect.

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1 hour ago, Kevin D said:

These numbers are quite disgusting so I do apologise unreservedly if they offend anybody's sense of propriety:

 

_117483729_graphic.png

 

 

I've just taken a look at their league table and noticed that there are only 12 teams in it, do they play each other 3 times a season?

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33 minutes ago, Herp McDerp said:

 

I've just taken a look at their league table and noticed that there are only 12 teams in it, do they play each other 3 times a season?

Each club will play each other at least three times before the table splits in half for the last part of the competition. Each club will then play five more games against clubs in their half of the table. Each team plays a total of 38 games.

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27 minutes ago, Bad Red Bull said:

Each club will play each other at least three times before the table splits in half for the last part of the competition. Each club will then play five more games against clubs in their half of the table. Each team plays a total of 38 games.

Thanks, was trying to do the maths but couldn't make it fit and couldnt be arsed googling it.

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7 hours ago, Bad Red Bull said:

Each club will play each other at least three times before the table splits in half for the last part of the competition. Each club will then play five more games against clubs in their half of the table. Each team plays a total of 38 games.

I never knew that. Its shit. 

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I'm absolutely delighted for Stevie and can only imagine how proud and happy he is. He was, is and will always be an absolute legend of this club and whilst I've no real affinity to any other club or really give a fuck how they get on, seeing him do well makes me a happy monkey. Absolutely no one deserves to be a league winner more.

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Not sure on the headline but some good bits in the article. From Oli Kay.

 

Steven Gerrard’s title is one of the greatest achievements by a former England international

 

“You might never get a chance to take up a job like that again. If he decides to go, he’s going to a magnificent football club who for the best part of the decade have been in the doldrums. You go up there, you get it half-right, and he would be a god.”

 

If there was one man who understood the challenge that was made to Steven Gerrard in the summer of 2018, it was Graeme Souness.

 

Thirty-two years earlier Souness — like Gerrard, a midfield colossus and a European Cup-winning captain with Liverpool — concluded Rangers was the ideal place to launch his managerial career. Eight years had been since their last Scottish championship and, quite apart from an increasingly one-sided Old Firm rivalry with Celtic, there was the “New Firm” of Aberdeen and Dundee United, thriving in Europe under Alex Ferguson and Jim McLean.

 

Souness came in like a wrecking ball, his first season (as player-manager) a flurry of red cards, anti-establishment outbursts, big-name signings like Chris Woods and Terry Butcher and, at the end of it all, rapturous celebrations. Their first league title in nine years was clinched on an emotionally-charged afternoon at Pittodrie, where, like on his debut against Hibernian, he was sent off. His players hung on for a 1-1 draw without him and Souness later emerged from the dressing room, a little sheepishly at first, to declare he wanted to dominate Scottish football for years to come. That proposal was backed up with interest by chairman David Holmes, who said it was “beholden” on the board to “take the club where we want to be. That’s the top in Europe.”

 

It was a different era, one in which Souness could entice England internationals over the border and Rangers fans could legitimately dream of being the best team in Europe (and they certainly weren’t far away under Souness in 1987-88 or his successor Walter Smith five years later), but the parallels with Gerrard’s success are numerous — and that is even before you come to Gerrard being sent to the stands for confronting the referee at half-time Livingston on Wednesday night, which meant he was banned from the touchline for Saturday’s victory over St Mirren. As a Souness tribute act, that is almost unsurpassable.

 

This time it is 10 years of pent-up frustration — and indeed anger and humiliation when you consider everything Rangers’ supporters have endured over the past decade. Regrettably there were no fans inside Ibrox to enjoy the win that took them to within touching distance, but Gerrard, like Souness, has done something spectacular in his first management job. For all the obvious schadenfreude at having denied Celtic that long-elusive feat of winning 10 in a row, which is understandable given the all-consuming nature of the Glasgow rivalry, a first league title in 10 years is all the more impressive when you consider the depths that Rangers have come from and the lost ground they have had to make up over the past three seasons.

 

GettyImages-1231556705.jpg

 

Celtic’s regression since Brendan Rodgers’ departure (and perhaps a little earlier) is of course a significant part of this story, but Rangers have not won the league by default. They have done so with six games to spare, winning 28 and drawing four of their first 32 matches, scoring 77 goals and conceding just nine. In his first season in charge at Ibrox, they won 78 points and were knocked out of the Europa League at the group stage. In his third season, they could yet equal Celtic’s record of 106 points and have reached the last 16 of the Europa League for good measure.

 

Some south of the border will shrug and say that, because it is “only” Scottish football, it means nothing. They will be the same people, presumably, who were similarly dismissive of Celtic’s trophy hauls and record-breaking campaigns under Rodgers. Anyone could win the league with Celtic, apparently. Or Rangers. Hang on, that doesn’t quite work, does it? 

 

What can be said for certainty is that this is one of the great managerial achievements by a former England international in modern times. Does that sound like a hyperbolic statement? It really isn’t when you consider English football’s lamentable record when it comes to following up a top-class playing career with top-class achievements as a manager.

 

Some of the greatest English managers have been former internationals (Sir Alf Ramsey, Bill Nicholson, Don Revie, Brian Clough, Sir Bobby Robson, Terry Venables), but the success stories over subsequent decades have been more modest. There have been numerous promotions (such as Jack Charlton, Jimmy Armfield, Alan Ball, Alan Mullery, Joe Royle, Gerry Francis, Steve Coppell, Kevin Keegan, Glenn Hoddle, Bryan Robson, Terry Butcher, Peter Reid, Steve McMahon and Paul Ince), a handful of trophies overseas (such as Gordon Milne in Turkey, Terry Fenwick in Trinidad and Tobago, Reid and Peter Withe in Thailand, John Gregory in India), a solitary FA Cup (Royle with Everton) and League Cup (Brian Little with Aston Villa) and some undoubted successes in winning hearts and minds (Charlton with Ireland, Keegan at Newcastle United in particular, even Gareth Southgate at the last World Cup) but it has been rare enough in recent times to see any English manager win a trophy, let alone one with a distinguished playing record behind him. One hundred and fourteen caps for England as a player and now a league title as a manager is not to be sniffed at.

 

In the past, players usually entered management more by accident than design — often as a player-manager at first, like Souness at Rangers, Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool or Hoddle at Swindon Town and then Chelsea. Some found that their aura and their standing among their peers took them a long way, at least for a short time, but many appeared to lack the sophistication or tactical curiosity that would bring lasting success. Even those who seemed to carry a much greater degree of sophistication, such as Hoddle or indeed Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli, who followed him as player-manager at Chelsea, did not achieve anything like lasting success in management.

 

Gerrard belongs to a generation who have been encouraged to view management and coaching as more than just a soft landing at the end of their playing careers. (If it is a soft landing they want, then the television studio offers profile, camaraderie, multi-million-pound contracts and vastly more job security.) Gerrard, like Frank Lampard, Sol Campbell, Scott Parker and others, has shown serious dedication in pursuit of his coaching qualifications. He studied for his UEFA A Licence while coaching Liverpool’s Under-18s and now, at the age of 40 he has the UEFA Pro Licence, three years of front-line experience managing Rangers and, now, a league title to his name and the possibility of Champions League football next season.

 

GettyImages-954627280-2048x1355.jpg

 

In three years in charge of Rangers, Gerrard has demonstrated that he has the vision, the authority and the force of personality required to reawaken a huge club. By no means has it been an overnight success like Souness’s in the 1980s, but the way Gerrard and his staff have identified weaknesses — technical, tactical, physical, psychological — and eradicated them, one by one, is highly impressive.  

 

It harks back to something the BBC Scotland commentator Archie Macpherson said on that dramatic afternoon at Pittodrie back in 1987: “It’s an incredible achievement because when I saw Rangers at the tail end of last season, they looked as if they could never win anything in the next five years. There has been a revolution in Scottish football.”

 

With Souness, it was a revolution. With Gerrard, it has been evolution. He has done it with a budget far greater than Mark Warburton, Pedro Caixinha or Graeme Murty had, but still considerably smaller than Celtic’s. Rangers’ wage bill in 2017-18 was £24 million, less than half that of Celtic (£59 million). It rose to £43.3 million in 2019-20, Gerrard’s second season in charge, which represents a significant financial commitment to closing that gap — as seen in the investment in his backroom staff, as well as big wages for players such as Jermain Defoe and Alfredo Morelos — but that is roughly in proportion with an increase in revenue over the same period, notably through broadcast and prize money from their Europa League run.

 

If winning the Scottish Premiership is not enough to impress some, then leading Rangers to the later stages of the Europa League, in an era when Scottish clubs are among the poor relations of European football, really should be. In July 2017, under Caixinha, Rangers were knocked out in the first qualifying round by Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg. In three seasons under Gerrard they have played 43 Europa League matches and lost just five, keeping no fewer than 21 clean sheets in the process. Last month’s 9-5 aggregate victory over Antwerp was chaotic, but the draws away to Villarreal, Benfica and Porto were exhibitions of the controlled, tactically disciplined football that tells you Rangers’ defensive improvement in the Scottish Premiership (50 goals conceded the season before his arrival, then 27 in his first campaign, 19 in his second and so far just nine in his third) should not be dismissed lightly either.

 

None of this makes him English football’s answer to Pep Guardiola. His role at Rangers has been described primarily as that of a figurehead, somewhere between the old-school British manager and the modern performance-director type. Much of the hands-on coaching is led by the highly-regarded Michael Beale, who came with him from Liverpool. In a podcast with his former Liverpool team-mate Robbie Fowler, Gerrard said recently “it would take me 15/20 years to become as good as Michael Beale as on-pitch coach”, so he is happy to delegate that side of the job. That too is a strength, as Ferguson and many others would testify.

 

As Beale said recently, “Steven is a very very good coach, but he wants to be a manager. I’m obsessed with X and Os — how this practice does this and how that practice does that — but the manager will be obsessed with the team to pick, managing the players off the pitch, managing the one-to-one relationships and the media, managing upwards with the board and outwards with the fans and academy.”

 

That is bloody difficult at a club the size of Rangers, where the public and media spotlight is intense and the burden of history — both the glorious past and the more recent trauma — is inescapable. To make light of that burden and drag the club upwards, as Souness did in the 1980s and Gerrard has done more painstakingly over the past three years, takes some doing.

 

It is natural to wonder where Gerrard’s coaching journey will take him and of course, at risk of raining on Rangers’ parade, whether his success in Glasgow has made him a serious contender to his beloved Liverpool as manager at some stage in the future. 

 

At this point we come back to Souness, the other European Cup-winning captain who, as a rookie manager, restored lost pride and glory at Rangers. To repeat, it was a different era, a time when English clubs were banned from European competition and when Rangers had the financial muscle to lure players such as Butcher, Woods, Graeme Roberts, Ray Wilkins, Mark Walters, Gary Stevens, Trevor Steven and Mark Hateley to Ibrox. Souness led Rangers to three Scottish league titles and four Scottish League Cups. Being knocked out of the European Cup by richly talented Steaua Bucharest and Red Star Belgrade teams, and even by Bayern Munich, came as unexpected blows to their soaring confidence and ambitions under Souness.

 

And then in April 1991, closing in on his fourth league title in five seasons at Rangers, having twice said no to his former club, he accepted Liverpool’s SOS call for him to succeed Dalglish at Anfield.

 

GettyImages-1223367375-2048x1282.jpg

 

David Murray, the Rangers chairman, told reporters, “He’s making the biggest mistake of his life.” For Souness, the mistake of accepting the job at that particular time was compounded by some grave misjudgments when he got there but, as he told the Merseyside branch of Liverpool’s supporters club in a Zoom meeting last year, “I should never have taken the job. I wish I’d said no to Liverpool in 1991.”

 

Souness’s experience would not deter Gerrard, though. If a Rangers-supporting Scot succumbed to the lure of Merseyside at a time when he had established the Glasgow club as (genuinely) one of the leading teams in Europe, then it is barely exaggeration to say Gerrard, a Liverpudlian born and bred, would walk barefoot to Anfield, particularly in an era when there is such an economic imbalance between the Scottish and English game. He did not attempt to hide that ambition when he spoke to Alan Shearer in The Athletic in December. It would be irresistible, just as the Chelsea job was for Frank Lampard, regardless of the outcome.

 

The frustration for Rangers would come if he was lured south for what was perceived to be a lesser job. That was certainly the feeling around Celtic when Rodgers left for Leicester City in February 2019. While Rodgers’ work in establishing Leicester as top-four challengers has certainly proved a point to those who questioned his career choice at the time, his defection was a blow to Scottish football’s self-esteem — just another kick in the teeth after Aberdeen striker Adam Rooney turned down several Scottish Premiership teams to join Salford City, then of the English National League, in the summer of 2018. Even when Joe Aribo left Charlton Athletic, newly promoted to the Sky Bet Championship, for Rangers in the summer of 2019, his career choice was derided publicly by his manager. Perhaps Lee Bowyer will acknowledge now that it wasn’t such a bad move for Aribo after all.

 

Rodgers was probably right when, closing in on a third consecutive clean sweep of the domestic trophies with Celtic, he concluded he had outgrown Scottish football and needed a new challenge. But Gerrard, approaching the end of his third season at Rangers, does not give the impression. Jamie Carragher seemed to be speaking from a position of inside knowledge when he said in his Daily Telegraph column that, having initially assumed Gerrard would “have his eye on a swift Premier League return in readiness for an inevitable reunion later in his career”, he now feels his former Liverpool team-mate “has caught the bug, immersed in the club” and will relish the challenge of leading Rangers into the Champions League next season.

 

This isn’t the time to evaluate if or when Gerrard might get the chance to manage Liverpool — not when his former club is suddenly embroiled in confusion and not when the mood around Rangers, by contrast, is so euphoric. As he said in that interview with Shearer, “It’s very difficult to predict the future. Just because I was a good player for Liverpool and had the career I had there, (that) doesn’t necessarily mean you’re next in line to be manager. You know and I know, if one day that job ever becomes available, there’ll be a queue a mile long, full of top-class managers. It doesn’t mean you’re the best person for the job.”

 

Exactly. And the Souness experience underlines that point, as does the Lampard experience at Chelsea in a slightly different way. But certainly Gerrard has proved, like Souness, to be the best man for the job at Rangers. If this had felt like a make-or-break season for Gerrard — no previous Rangers manager had been offered a third year in charge after failing to win a trophy in the first two — then it is safe to say he has made a success of it. He has broken Celtic’s monopoly. And of course, with Celtic plotting a fresh start under new management, that will make next season all the more fascinating.

 

As Souness said of Gerrard when he took the Rangers job, “You go up there, you get it half-right, and he would be a god.” Souness attained that status almost overnight, raging against every opponent that lay in their path. For Gerrard it has been a much more gradual process, evolution rather than revolution, but he got it a lot more than half-right this season and will rightly be lauded for doing so.

 

Whatever his managerial career might bring in years to come, Gerrard is following in Souness’s footsteps, right down to an untimely brush with the Scottish football authority. As for whether those footsteps take all the way back to Anfield one day, it is a debate for much further down the line? Right now he is only interested in matching Souness’s exploits at Ibrox, not repeating the mistakes that came later.

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3 minutes ago, Sugar Ape said:

Not sure on the headline but some good bits in the article. From Oli Kay.

 

Steven Gerrard’s title is one of the greatest achievements by a former England international

 

“You might never get a chance to take up a job like that again. If he decides to go, he’s going to a magnificent football club who for the best part of the decade have been in the doldrums. You go up there, you get it half-right, and he would be a god.”

 

If there was one man who understood the challenge that was made to Steven Gerrard in the summer of 2018, it was Graeme Souness.

 

Thirty-two years earlier Souness — like Gerrard, a midfield colossus and a European Cup-winning captain with Liverpool — concluded Rangers was the ideal place to launch his managerial career. Eight years had been since their last Scottish championship and, quite apart from an increasingly one-sided Old Firm rivalry with Celtic, there was the “New Firm” of Aberdeen and Dundee United, thriving in Europe under Alex Ferguson and Jim McLean.

 

Souness came in like a wrecking ball, his first season (as player-manager) a flurry of red cards, anti-establishment outbursts, big-name signings like Chris Woods and Terry Butcher and, at the end of it all, rapturous celebrations. Their first league title in nine years was clinched on an emotionally-charged afternoon at Pittodrie, where, like on his debut against Hibernian, he was sent off. His players hung on for a 1-1 draw without him and Souness later emerged from the dressing room, a little sheepishly at first, to declare he wanted to dominate Scottish football for years to come. That proposal was backed up with interest by chairman David Holmes, who said it was “beholden” on the board to “take the club where we want to be. That’s the top in Europe.”

 

It was a different era, one in which Souness could entice England internationals over the border and Rangers fans could legitimately dream of being the best team in Europe (and they certainly weren’t far away under Souness in 1987-88 or his successor Walter Smith five years later), but the parallels with Gerrard’s success are numerous — and that is even before you come to Gerrard being sent to the stands for confronting the referee at half-time Livingston on Wednesday night, which meant he was banned from the touchline for Saturday’s victory over St Mirren. As a Souness tribute act, that is almost unsurpassable.

 

This time it is 10 years of pent-up frustration — and indeed anger and humiliation when you consider everything Rangers’ supporters have endured over the past decade. Regrettably there were no fans inside Ibrox to enjoy the win that took them to within touching distance, but Gerrard, like Souness, has done something spectacular in his first management job. For all the obvious schadenfreude at having denied Celtic that long-elusive feat of winning 10 in a row, which is understandable given the all-consuming nature of the Glasgow rivalry, a first league title in 10 years is all the more impressive when you consider the depths that Rangers have come from and the lost ground they have had to make up over the past three seasons.

 

GettyImages-1231556705.jpg

 

Celtic’s regression since Brendan Rodgers’ departure (and perhaps a little earlier) is of course a significant part of this story, but Rangers have not won the league by default. They have done so with six games to spare, winning 28 and drawing four of their first 32 matches, scoring 77 goals and conceding just nine. In his first season in charge at Ibrox, they won 78 points and were knocked out of the Europa League at the group stage. In his third season, they could yet equal Celtic’s record of 106 points and have reached the last 16 of the Europa League for good measure.

 

Some south of the border will shrug and say that, because it is “only” Scottish football, it means nothing. They will be the same people, presumably, who were similarly dismissive of Celtic’s trophy hauls and record-breaking campaigns under Rodgers. Anyone could win the league with Celtic, apparently. Or Rangers. Hang on, that doesn’t quite work, does it? 

 

What can be said for certainty is that this is one of the great managerial achievements by a former England international in modern times. Does that sound like a hyperbolic statement? It really isn’t when you consider English football’s lamentable record when it comes to following up a top-class playing career with top-class achievements as a manager.

 

Some of the greatest English managers have been former internationals (Sir Alf Ramsey, Bill Nicholson, Don Revie, Brian Clough, Sir Bobby Robson, Terry Venables), but the success stories over subsequent decades have been more modest. There have been numerous promotions (such as Jack Charlton, Jimmy Armfield, Alan Ball, Alan Mullery, Joe Royle, Gerry Francis, Steve Coppell, Kevin Keegan, Glenn Hoddle, Bryan Robson, Terry Butcher, Peter Reid, Steve McMahon and Paul Ince), a handful of trophies overseas (such as Gordon Milne in Turkey, Terry Fenwick in Trinidad and Tobago, Reid and Peter Withe in Thailand, John Gregory in India), a solitary FA Cup (Royle with Everton) and League Cup (Brian Little with Aston Villa) and some undoubted successes in winning hearts and minds (Charlton with Ireland, Keegan at Newcastle United in particular, even Gareth Southgate at the last World Cup) but it has been rare enough in recent times to see any English manager win a trophy, let alone one with a distinguished playing record behind him. One hundred and fourteen caps for England as a player and now a league title as a manager is not to be sniffed at.

 

In the past, players usually entered management more by accident than design — often as a player-manager at first, like Souness at Rangers, Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool or Hoddle at Swindon Town and then Chelsea. Some found that their aura and their standing among their peers took them a long way, at least for a short time, but many appeared to lack the sophistication or tactical curiosity that would bring lasting success. Even those who seemed to carry a much greater degree of sophistication, such as Hoddle or indeed Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli, who followed him as player-manager at Chelsea, did not achieve anything like lasting success in management.

 

Gerrard belongs to a generation who have been encouraged to view management and coaching as more than just a soft landing at the end of their playing careers. (If it is a soft landing they want, then the television studio offers profile, camaraderie, multi-million-pound contracts and vastly more job security.) Gerrard, like Frank Lampard, Sol Campbell, Scott Parker and others, has shown serious dedication in pursuit of his coaching qualifications. He studied for his UEFA A Licence while coaching Liverpool’s Under-18s and now, at the age of 40 he has the UEFA Pro Licence, three years of front-line experience managing Rangers and, now, a league title to his name and the possibility of Champions League football next season.

 

GettyImages-954627280-2048x1355.jpg

 

In three years in charge of Rangers, Gerrard has demonstrated that he has the vision, the authority and the force of personality required to reawaken a huge club. By no means has it been an overnight success like Souness’s in the 1980s, but the way Gerrard and his staff have identified weaknesses — technical, tactical, physical, psychological — and eradicated them, one by one, is highly impressive.  

 

It harks back to something the BBC Scotland commentator Archie Macpherson said on that dramatic afternoon at Pittodrie back in 1987: “It’s an incredible achievement because when I saw Rangers at the tail end of last season, they looked as if they could never win anything in the next five years. There has been a revolution in Scottish football.”

 

With Souness, it was a revolution. With Gerrard, it has been evolution. He has done it with a budget far greater than Mark Warburton, Pedro Caixinha or Graeme Murty had, but still considerably smaller than Celtic’s. Rangers’ wage bill in 2017-18 was £24 million, less than half that of Celtic (£59 million). It rose to £43.3 million in 2019-20, Gerrard’s second season in charge, which represents a significant financial commitment to closing that gap — as seen in the investment in his backroom staff, as well as big wages for players such as Jermain Defoe and Alfredo Morelos — but that is roughly in proportion with an increase in revenue over the same period, notably through broadcast and prize money from their Europa League run.

 

If winning the Scottish Premiership is not enough to impress some, then leading Rangers to the later stages of the Europa League, in an era when Scottish clubs are among the poor relations of European football, really should be. In July 2017, under Caixinha, Rangers were knocked out in the first qualifying round by Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg. In three seasons under Gerrard they have played 43 Europa League matches and lost just five, keeping no fewer than 21 clean sheets in the process. Last month’s 9-5 aggregate victory over Antwerp was chaotic, but the draws away to Villarreal, Benfica and Porto were exhibitions of the controlled, tactically disciplined football that tells you Rangers’ defensive improvement in the Scottish Premiership (50 goals conceded the season before his arrival, then 27 in his first campaign, 19 in his second and so far just nine in his third) should not be dismissed lightly either.

 

None of this makes him English football’s answer to Pep Guardiola. His role at Rangers has been described primarily as that of a figurehead, somewhere between the old-school British manager and the modern performance-director type. Much of the hands-on coaching is led by the highly-regarded Michael Beale, who came with him from Liverpool. In a podcast with his former Liverpool team-mate Robbie Fowler, Gerrard said recently “it would take me 15/20 years to become as good as Michael Beale as on-pitch coach”, so he is happy to delegate that side of the job. That too is a strength, as Ferguson and many others would testify.

 

As Beale said recently, “Steven is a very very good coach, but he wants to be a manager. I’m obsessed with X and Os — how this practice does this and how that practice does that — but the manager will be obsessed with the team to pick, managing the players off the pitch, managing the one-to-one relationships and the media, managing upwards with the board and outwards with the fans and academy.”

 

That is bloody difficult at a club the size of Rangers, where the public and media spotlight is intense and the burden of history — both the glorious past and the more recent trauma — is inescapable. To make light of that burden and drag the club upwards, as Souness did in the 1980s and Gerrard has done more painstakingly over the past three years, takes some doing.

 

It is natural to wonder where Gerrard’s coaching journey will take him and of course, at risk of raining on Rangers’ parade, whether his success in Glasgow has made him a serious contender to his beloved Liverpool as manager at some stage in the future. 

 

At this point we come back to Souness, the other European Cup-winning captain who, as a rookie manager, restored lost pride and glory at Rangers. To repeat, it was a different era, a time when English clubs were banned from European competition and when Rangers had the financial muscle to lure players such as Butcher, Woods, Graeme Roberts, Ray Wilkins, Mark Walters, Gary Stevens, Trevor Steven and Mark Hateley to Ibrox. Souness led Rangers to three Scottish league titles and four Scottish League Cups. Being knocked out of the European Cup by richly talented Steaua Bucharest and Red Star Belgrade teams, and even by Bayern Munich, came as unexpected blows to their soaring confidence and ambitions under Souness.

 

And then in April 1991, closing in on his fourth league title in five seasons at Rangers, having twice said no to his former club, he accepted Liverpool’s SOS call for him to succeed Dalglish at Anfield.

 

GettyImages-1223367375-2048x1282.jpg

 

David Murray, the Rangers chairman, told reporters, “He’s making the biggest mistake of his life.” For Souness, the mistake of accepting the job at that particular time was compounded by some grave misjudgments when he got there but, as he told the Merseyside branch of Liverpool’s supporters club in a Zoom meeting last year, “I should never have taken the job. I wish I’d said no to Liverpool in 1991.”

 

Souness’s experience would not deter Gerrard, though. If a Rangers-supporting Scot succumbed to the lure of Merseyside at a time when he had established the Glasgow club as (genuinely) one of the leading teams in Europe, then it is barely exaggeration to say Gerrard, a Liverpudlian born and bred, would walk barefoot to Anfield, particularly in an era when there is such an economic imbalance between the Scottish and English game. He did not attempt to hide that ambition when he spoke to Alan Shearer in The Athletic in December. It would be irresistible, just as the Chelsea job was for Frank Lampard, regardless of the outcome.

 

The frustration for Rangers would come if he was lured south for what was perceived to be a lesser job. That was certainly the feeling around Celtic when Rodgers left for Leicester City in February 2019. While Rodgers’ work in establishing Leicester as top-four challengers has certainly proved a point to those who questioned his career choice at the time, his defection was a blow to Scottish football’s self-esteem — just another kick in the teeth after Aberdeen striker Adam Rooney turned down several Scottish Premiership teams to join Salford City, then of the English National League, in the summer of 2018. Even when Joe Aribo left Charlton Athletic, newly promoted to the Sky Bet Championship, for Rangers in the summer of 2019, his career choice was derided publicly by his manager. Perhaps Lee Bowyer will acknowledge now that it wasn’t such a bad move for Aribo after all.

 

Rodgers was probably right when, closing in on a third consecutive clean sweep of the domestic trophies with Celtic, he concluded he had outgrown Scottish football and needed a new challenge. But Gerrard, approaching the end of his third season at Rangers, does not give the impression. Jamie Carragher seemed to be speaking from a position of inside knowledge when he said in his Daily Telegraph column that, having initially assumed Gerrard would “have his eye on a swift Premier League return in readiness for an inevitable reunion later in his career”, he now feels his former Liverpool team-mate “has caught the bug, immersed in the club” and will relish the challenge of leading Rangers into the Champions League next season.

 

This isn’t the time to evaluate if or when Gerrard might get the chance to manage Liverpool — not when his former club is suddenly embroiled in confusion and not when the mood around Rangers, by contrast, is so euphoric. As he said in that interview with Shearer, “It’s very difficult to predict the future. Just because I was a good player for Liverpool and had the career I had there, (that) doesn’t necessarily mean you’re next in line to be manager. You know and I know, if one day that job ever becomes available, there’ll be a queue a mile long, full of top-class managers. It doesn’t mean you’re the best person for the job.”

 

Exactly. And the Souness experience underlines that point, as does the Lampard experience at Chelsea in a slightly different way. But certainly Gerrard has proved, like Souness, to be the best man for the job at Rangers. If this had felt like a make-or-break season for Gerrard — no previous Rangers manager had been offered a third year in charge after failing to win a trophy in the first two — then it is safe to say he has made a success of it. He has broken Celtic’s monopoly. And of course, with Celtic plotting a fresh start under new management, that will make next season all the more fascinating.

 

As Souness said of Gerrard when he took the Rangers job, “You go up there, you get it half-right, and he would be a god.” Souness attained that status almost overnight, raging against every opponent that lay in their path. For Gerrard it has been a much more gradual process, evolution rather than revolution, but he got it a lot more than half-right this season and will rightly be lauded for doing so.

 

Whatever his managerial career might bring in years to come, Gerrard is following in Souness’s footsteps, right down to an untimely brush with the Scottish football authority. As for whether those footsteps take all the way back to Anfield one day, it is a debate for much further down the line? Right now he is only interested in matching Souness’s exploits at Ibrox, not repeating the mistakes that came later.

Didnt bother reading this because this type of write up should only exist if he wins the UEFA Cup as well. He's done very well so far, but he still has a long way to go. The signs are very encouraging though.

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3 minutes ago, VladimirIlyich said:

Didnt bother reading this because this type of write up should only exist if he wins the UEFA Cup as well. He's done very well so far, but he still has a long way to go. The signs are very encouraging though.

I didn't read it but I don't agree with the content anyway. Classic Vlad.

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1 hour ago, Sugar Ape said:

I didn't read it but I don't agree with the content anyway. Classic Vlad.

I dont like the hyperbole yet. I think Gerrard will be a great manager but winning a two horse race is just a spring board and nothing else.

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5 minutes ago, VladimirIlyich said:

I dont like the hyperbole yet. I think Gerrard will be a great manager but winning a two horse race is just a spring board and nothing else.

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On 08/03/2021 at 11:19, Kevin D said:

These numbers are quite disgusting so I do apologise unreservedly if they offend anybody's sense of propriety:

 

_117483729_graphic.png

 

My word. Thanks for the memories Jurgen. Welcome home sweet prince.

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