With the increasing speculation that Steven Gerrard is to become the next Rangers manager, particularly since Liverpool’s Champions League Semi-Final v Roma where Chairman Dave King was spotted with the club’s royalty, I thought I’d have a look at what he could bring to the role.
When making any decisions, we, as rational adults anyway, make a mental checklist of pro’s and con’s and it is no different when names have been linked with the Ibrox hot seat. Because of the failings of Mark Warburton, Pedro Caixinha and Graeme Murty there is a clamour for the proverbial safe pair of hands. Personally, I’m not sure such a thing exists.
Sam Allardyce and maybe Sean Dyche in the British game are the only two managers I reckon you could employ and know exactly what you will get from them.
In the search for a long-term Rangers manager when a new name pops up the first question is usually – “who does he support?” or “who did he support when he was a bairn?”. Next question is – “what has he won?” or “what experience does he have?”. Steven Gerrard is a different ball game.
We all know who he is, the whole world of football knows who he is. We all know who he supports and what he has won. We also all know what he is doing now.
To say, “he’s just a youth team manager, we don’t want another one of those” is ridiculous. For every Graeme Murty there is a Pep Guardiola, there that’s that argument over.
It is impossible to talk about Gerrard and Rangers without talking about Souness. The similarities are uncanny. Obviously, Gerrard isn’t even as remotely magnificent, however, they do share numerous traits. Both are born winners that refuse to accept second best or failure, they drive those around them through their actions. They have excelled on the highest stage, if anything, that is where they are most comfortable. They have standards that must be maintained by not only themselves but those around them, allowing a drop in standards is unacceptable.
If you were to do a profile for the Rangers job, Gerrard ticks almost all the boxes. The two obvious and notable exceptions are that he didn’t play for the club and has no senior managerial experience. Neither did Souness.
We are not in the position to get an Ancelotti or a Tuchel or Simeone. We need someone that ticks as many boxes as possible.
Gerrard is a huge name, he will help to attract better players. He has world-wide contacts through his playing career at the highest level. The club’s profile becomes higher and more attractive to sponsors, English media will follow his career under a microscope which would further expose the club on a global platform. This works both ways, the media will respect Gerrard because of his playing career and will not want to alienate someone with his stature in the game.
If you are a player for Rangers, who would you work harder to impress, Graeme Murty or Steven Gerrard? It’s sad, borderline pathetic but it is human nature.
The most intriguing thing about Gerrard the manager would be his playing style. If it is in the same mould as his playing career then there is every chance it would be successful. High energy, high intensity, attacking at pace and defending with desire and most of all, playing with heart and passion. It’s one thing being able to do it yourself, it’s another instilling that into players of an inferior quality.
I’ve already seen the John Barnes comparisons. Gerrard is a different animal, he doesn’t try to be too smart, he appreciates that the simple things done well can be equally as effective, he places great value on belief and mental strength. We see this all through his punditry, regardless of who he is commenting on.
As for the comparison with Murty, Gerrard has a nasty streak that Souness also possessed. He showed it on the park more than once in his playing career and you can guarantee he wouldn’t let players off with below par performances because “it is still too raw”.
For me, he has the profile, he has the qualities, he just doesn’t have the experience. We would take him in a heartbeat if it wasn’t for the last three appointments but Steven Gerrard is not Warburton (a former broker), Caixinha (a mediocre foreign coach with an undistinguished playing career) or Murty (a nice guy, youth coach).
Souness came in and brought winners with him, he also made those already there better by instilling his qualities into them, why can’t Gerrard do the same? We were at a low ebb when Souness came in, arguably lower than we are now, he certainly wasn’t the “safe pair of hands” fans were crying out for but he was an unmitigated success.
We deserve better, Gerrard is better, in every sense of the word.