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Comment: Steven Gerrard move is a potentially generation defining moment for Rangers

 

By Julian Taylor

Shortly after the conclusion of the 1989 Scottish Cup final, jubilant Celtic players danced around Hampden Park having stopped Rangers from winning the treble.

At the same time, Ibrox manager Graeme Souness, a man whom that over-used term 'a winner' could be constructed around without any exaggeration, was already plotting.

After discarding his runners-up medal, declaring to his hurt players "I don't collect these", he reassured them that a seismic chapter for Rangers was around the corner.

Former Celtic hero Mo Johnston consequently signed for Souness and the bold initiative paid off. Psychologically, the transfer went a long way to fuelling a nineties golden era for Rangers.

Of course, these are changed times, and as Celtic are set to clinch their seventh successive Premiership title, the Light Blues face the prospect of being a simple supporting cast at Parkhead tomorrow.

Slumbering and shaken, Rangers are finally reacting. After seven months of uncertainty, a massive, surging statement appears imminent.

It's an old story - Steven Gerrard dragging himself from precocious urchin to luminary status at Liverpool. Now, as reports strongly suggest, he has the chance to make a name for himself in management at Ibrox.

Following talks, the former England captain looks like becoming Rangers' latest venture within an increasingly high-risk strategy.

Chairman Dave King appreciates that appointing new coaches can leave sleepless nights.

Then again, there is the reward to risk ratio to consider.

Rangers' quest is to stop Celtic chief Brendan Rodgers from steamrollering to 10-in-a-row. So conviction is growing over Gerrard, an impact, as opposed to project, manager.

Naturally, cautious voices around Ibrox suggest that Rangers and their ferocious, if unrealistic, demands of winning every game and trophy available is not the kind of environment for a man who only has knowledge of coaching Liverpool's Under-18s.

The much-quoted John Barnes at Celtic comparison is flawed at source due to the respective personalities. While the laid-back ex-Liverpool winger was more pina colada, Gerrard is the energy drinking, driven obsessive, as he freely admitted from a TV studio recently.

Ironically for the Gers, Neil Lennon is perhaps a better resemblance at this point.

The Northern Irishman had, like Gerrard, only managed at youth level before embracing the Celtic top job in 2010.

Lennon's noted fire and know-how resulted in trophies and the latter stages of the Champions League. An all-encompassing approach to the next chapter in his life should serve Gerrard similarly well.

If the Liverpudlian does accept the Rangers job he will have done so after careful consideration and assurances of a reasonable budget for new players. This is Gerrard's straight choice and, fundamentally, down to how much he feels he is ready for the searing responsibility of managing one of Britain's biggest clubs.

Gerrard's name brings obvious commercial and marketing value, but his reported choice of assistant is important.

Gary McAllister, a highly respected operator, is credited by Gerrard for his elevation from Liverpool midfield prodigy to prince. The kind of astute calm former Scotland captain McAllister would bring to Gerrard's side is vital to hopes of this surprise marriage working.

A natural leader, Gerrard wishes to manage Liverpool one day, so wilting under a similar spotlight in Glasgow would cost him. For the moment, the idea of a city derby against old Anfield boss Rodgers and the subtext of mind games, would fascinate and charge up Scottish football once again.

Rangers' recent managerial appointments, Mark Warburton, Pedro Caixinha and Graeme Murty, have all failed.

While it's naive to say that statistically the club should get it right sometime, a Gerrard appointment is both a critical and potentially generation defining moment at Ibrox.

Belfast Telegraph

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