Gerrard takes risky challenge

New Rangers manager Steven Gerrard holding a club scarf in the trophy room after a press conference at Ibrox yesterday.
New Rangers manager Steven Gerrard holding a club scarf in the trophy room after a press conference at Ibrox yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

New Rangers boss confident of delivering but will face uphill task in transforming club's fortunes

LONDON • Steven Gerrard said that he was confident of making Rangers fans "very happy" and "delivering on the expectations" after he was confirmed as the Scottish Premiership football club's new manager yesterday.

The former Liverpool and England midfielder has agreed on a four-year deal.

"Opportunities like this don't come around very often. I believe I can make these fans very happy," the 37-year-old told a press conference at Ibrox yesterday.

"I am confident of delivering on the expectations. If I didn't have that, I wouldn't be sitting here. In terms of targets, I just want to win football matches."

Gerrard, who has previously only worked with Liverpool's Under-18s, faces a daunting task in trying to compete with Old Firm rivals Celtic, who have just sealed their seventh consecutive title.

Caretaker manager Graeme Murty was sacked this week after six months in charge.

Rangers chairman Dave King said: "We believe that Steven is the right man to drive Rangers forward.

"He was extremely impressive throughout our negotiations and we are convinced that he has the necessary knowledge and temperament to lead the club to the success we all desire."

Gerrard was an inspirational captain and Champions League winner in a 17-year career at Anfield but, as a managerial rookie, he faces a huge challenge to unseat Celtic, who sealed the title last Sunday with a 5-0 thumping of Rangers.

He also faces the challenge of outfoxing his former manager at Liverpool in Celtic's Brendan Rodgers, who told a press conference yesterday that Gerrard's attributes as a player will serve him in good stead.

"He had incredible quality as a player and, like I say, that level of professionalism he had in his career - that's what made him the great player he was," he added.

"So, I'm sure he will take those attributes into his management."

Another of Gerrard's former managers, Rafael Benitez, also expressed his delight at the former England captain being afforded the chance to show what he can do.

"I said (before) that because he has had so many different managers, with so many different styles, I'm sure he has learnt from everyone and hopefully he can do well," said the Newcastle boss.

"It's not easy, because it is not easy for them to compete against Celtic.

"I think he will be a manager with fresh ideas and his commitment and passion will be there. I think he can do well."

Former Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson, however, believes Gerrard has taken a big risk.

"This is one of the biggest clubs in the UK," he told Sky Sports. "But they're so far behind Celtic. If you're so far behind now, to turn that around and get closer within one transfer window, I think it's extremely risky... Finance is the biggest problem. Finances have been all over the place with this club for years and I think the fans and players are fed up with it."

Rangers are still recovering from the fallout of their liquidation in 2012 and subsequent demotion to the fourth tier of Scottish football.

Celtic, bolstered by Champions League revenue, had a £90 million (S$163 million) turnover last year - three times that of their Old Firm rivals. In their second season back in the top flight, Rangers trail Celtic by 13 points, and are locked in a battle with Aberdeen and Hibernian just to finish second.

With Gerrard widely regarded as someone earmarked to be a future Liverpool manager, many observers have noted that his performance at Ibrox could affect his chances of ultimately taking charge of his boyhood club.

Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson told BBC Sport: "People will obviously talk about the Liverpool job in future but, if he goes anywhere and it doesn't work out, the same slant will be put on it."

Gerrard's former Reds team-mate Gary McAllister, 53, is expected to be his assistant in Glasgow.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2018, with the headline 'Gerrard takes risky challenge'. Print Edition | Subscribe