“He’s blue, he’s white, he’s a dynamite”, rang out among the Ibrox faithful, in regards to Steven Gerrard, late into their game against Kilmarnock, minutes after David Bates finally broke the deadlock in yet another intrepid display from the Rangers. It was the only moment of palpable excitement from the otherwise subdued supporters having to trudge through yet another season of mediocrity in the Scottish Premier League.
Rangers have experienced an intriguing gamut of emotions in the recent seasons – from the euphoria which surrounded the club after they secured promotion to top division just four years after liquidation to the 5-0 drubbing in the Old Firm derby which handed Celtic the latest of their 49 Scottish Premiership titles, there has been a dramatic flair to the Rangers’ fortunes on and off the pitch this past decade.
Appointing Gerrard as their next manager is so atypical of the Teddy Bears, for the Rangers have always been a club with an orthodox approach, vouching for tradition above anything else. Even though the former Liverpool skipper’s inexperience is worrisome for the supporters, the club’s recent struggles have compelled the management to throw down the gauntlet.
Rangers’ recent financial limitations have played a direct role behind their abject performances on the pitch – the managerial position subject to a revolving door in light of poor results, while the squad remains a disjointed unit of professionals incapable of overcoming not only a strong Celtics team, but also falling to the resilience shown by the lesser-esteemed Aberdeen, Hibernian and Kilmarnock teams occasionally.
While Celtic have gone from strength to strength under Brendan Rodgers (who hitherto managed a Gerrard-led Liverpool), Rangers have sunk further into oblivion in a tragic turn of circumstances, with there being a high probability of them finishing fourth in the Scottish Premier League standings this season.
Gerrard, his lack of managerial experience at the highest levels notwithstanding, is arguablyRangers’ most high-profile appointment since Dick Advocaat became the club’s first foreign manager in 1998. Gerrard, who recently completed his UEFA A coaching credentials, has been in charge of the Liverpool U18s since the turn of the year, impressing the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Alex Inglethorpe with his work during his short tenure at the Liverpool Academy in Kirkby.
Gerrard’s work ethic and commitment to his craft have never been in doubt – qualities which could tremendously help the current Rangers regime which has been guilty of sloppiness in several instances. Gerrard will arrive in Glasgow with Michael Beale and Gary McAllister in tow – the former’s appointment as part of Gerrard’s backroom staff sounding particularly enticing for the Rangers fans because of Beale’s extensive experience at the youth level in England and Brazil.
“When the call came to speak to Rangers, it was a no-brainer,” Gerrard has said. “It was a different feeling in my stomach from other opportunities I have had to be a manager. I got a special feeling and I knew then that Rangers was for me. I have confidence I can deliver here as a manager. A huge opportunity presented itself. I was very aware of the size of the club having watched from afar for many years,” Gerrard is circumspect about the magnitude of the job and the pressures which will come with it.”
To accept such a controversial managerial position in the nascence of his career is gobsmacking, to say the least, but Gerrard’s brave decisions often led to miraculous results during his playing days with Liverpool. And Rangers fans will hope Gerrard brings that magic with him. There is also the notion that Gerrard’s arrival at the Ibrox will cause an influx of talents not only from the lower leagues in England but also from other corners of Europe, because of the apparent pulling power Gerrard’s name holds, but regular followers of Scottish football would correctly point out that the Rangers would need more – from the board and the scouting department – from Gerrard to succeed.
While many have voiced the opinion that Gerrard and Rangers are following the thesis of shared risk being a minimalised one, the fact of the matter is there is colossal pressure on both to carry out this herculean task of saving the Gers as even one misstep will bring it all crashing down for the club with the most number of trebles in world football.
Gerrard has time on his side, having accepted a four-year contract, but the room for error is negligible. Although the pitfalls are gigantic, for anything other than success would not only burn through the Scottish club but also dismantle Gerrard’s reputations, there is a marvellous opportunity for the Englishman to restore glory to one of the homes of football at its traditional best, a club where emotions trump logic, a stadium whose mystique is infectious to fans across the globe.
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Updated Date: May 06, 2018 18:27:13 IST