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Scottish Premiership preview: Gerrard will hope that he's in with a shout against old master Rodgers


Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers
Familiar faces: Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers know each other well from their Liverpool days

By Andy Newport

Master and apprentice will come face to face this season as Brendan Rodgers welcomes new Rangers boss Steven Gerrard into the Ladbrokes Premiership fray.

Ulsterman Rodgers has certainly been dishing out lessons since the Celtic manager made his own high-profile move to Glasgow two summers ago.

With back-to-back trebles in the bag, the Hoops' place at the top of the domestic class has never been more secure.

Now it is Gerrard's managerial credentials that will be put to the test as he prepares to take on his former Liverpool mentor.

Appointing a rookie boss is without doubt a gamble for Rangers - especially with Rodgers' seven-in-a-row heroes now just three league triumphs away from double figures.

But the Ibrox faithful will hope their man learned enough from his time working under Rodgers at Anfield to end their bitter rivals' run.

The 38-year-old respects Rodgers and his methods, stating back in 2016 that the Celtic boss was "very clever, very slick on the training pitch".

But the two have also failed to see eye to eye on occasion, with Gerrard accusing his old manager of "muscle-flexing" as he recalled in his autobiography being dropped for a clash with Manchester United back in 2015.

Their relationship is certain to be put under even more strain in the coming months - especially if the young apprentice wants to get one over on his old teacher.

The likelihood is that Gerrard and his 10 summer signings are going to take time to gel, while the Hoops - bolstered by the permanent addition of Odsonne Edouard - will be at their slickest usual best by the time they take on the new pretender in the opening Old Firm of the season on September 2.

A more realistic target for the new Rangers boss in his first season will be to reclaim second spot from Aberdeen.

Derek McInnes' men have held the best of the rest tag for four straight years, but with Kenny McLean, Ryan Christie and Adam Rooney among those who have departed Pittodrie, the Dons' grip on second spot may be loosening.

Hibernian boss Neil Lennon will want to see his side make another bid to get in amongst the leading pack after last term's fourth-place finish - and the capture of Florian Kamberi will ensure the Easter Road men have plenty of bite up top, even if John McGinn is prised away in the weeks to come.

Hearts have carried out some major renovation work with 13 new signings as they seek to shake off the inconsistencies of last term, while Kilmarnock will be out to prove that their remarkable resurgence under Steve Clarke was no one-season wonder.

Motherwell had a campaign to remember last term after fighting their way to the finals of both domestic cup competitions, but progress for Stephen Robinson's men could very well come in the shape of a top-six spot, although Dundee and St Johnstone will have eyes on that prize too.

At the bottom end, perennial survivors Hamilton will again be expected to struggle.

Accies, under Martin Canning, at least have the upper hand when it comes to continuity after his three-and-a-half-year reign.

New boys St Mirren and Livingston, on the other hand, not only have to find their feet but also get used to the methods of new bosses Alan Stubbs and Kenny Miller.

Belfast Telegraph


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