Scottish football was rocked this week as Rangers announced the arrival of their new manager – former Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard.
Rangers have given the manager’s role to a man who has indisputable experience at the highest level as a player where he won the Champions League plus other European honours and a bunch of domestic cups with Liverpool but has yet to be the manager of a team above U18 level.
Becoming the full-time manager of a club yet alone a massive side Rangers is going to be a challenge for sure but it is clearly one Celtic’s big rivals thinks the Liverpool U18 coach is able to handle as they have given Gerrard a 4 year contract which suggests they are going to allow him to build his team and take his time to develop the club into one which can achieve sustained success.
Brendan Rodgers knows Steven Gerrard very well from their time at Liverpool together where they almost won the Premier League title and enjoyed some success before Rodgers had Gerrard play a reduced role in the team as he looked to use Jordan Henderson more and more.
So there could be a little resentment from Gerrard towards to the Celtic boss which could provide for an interesting dynamic. Overall, with a stronger Rangers side it could help Celtic push on to greater things with their young and skilled forwards including the likes of Moussa Dembele, Charly Musonda and Odsonne Edouard.
Gerrard has already revealed Gary McCallister is to be his assistant and will likely add more experienced coaches to fill out his staff.
The last time the 2 clubs met saw a comprehensive 5-0 Celtic win as Graham Murty was relieved of his duties. This latest loss was clearly a tough one for Rangers to take especially given the results against Celtic across the whole season.
New Rangers boss Steven Gerrard had to this to say in response to the recent Celtic win where Odsonne Edouard scored a fine brace:
“I can’t have that. That’s got to stop and it’s got to stop now,” he said.
“These players will know very quickly what myself and my staff are about – and what we demand.
“A lot of them will already know the demands of the club. But it’s very important, from the off, that they buy into what I’m trying to do here. And there are lots of areas where we need to improve.
“Can I change a player’s mentality? I’ll try. But I need players who are willing to adapt, players who are going to believe in what we’re doing.
“I’ve been around footballers for a long time. I’ll work out very quickly who fancies this challenge and who wants to come with me.
“If there’s people who don’t fancy it and want to be somewhere else, good luck to them.
“If you’re not a hungry footballer, you shouldn’t be at Rangers Football Club. It’s as simple as that.
“I want a team that’s full of fight and passion.
“I want players that are prepared to empty the tank, ones who are confident and can handle pressure.
“I’ll assess them. Whether it’s a session, a day, a week or a month, I’ll work it out as quickly as I can. I want a squad of players who are focused on the future, not the past.
“I want players who want to be with me on this journey.
“Players who want to go and take the challenge to everyone in this league – and are willing to give it everything they’ve got.
“That’s the simple message to them. And I’ll work out those people very quickly.”
So Brendan Rodgers will have a new adversary next season which should see an improvement in the performances of Rangers but Steven Gerrard will not be the first former player to struggle at his first big club as a manager.
Whether Gerrard will have the budget to make big moves in the transfer market or how well he can recruit players using his contacts in the game will be interesting but Rodgers likely will not be too concerned as his record around recruitment while the Hoops’ boss has been pretty impressive.
Time will tell but for now it has to be a positive that the Gerrard appointment has brought some more exposure and publicity to the Scottish game.