Hope springs eternal for Rangers fans as Steven Gerrard named new boss
It is one of the most talked-about managerial appointments in years.
After days of speculation, former Liverpool star Steven Gerrard has been confirmed as the new boss of Rangers.
He's already got the backing of the Glasgow giants' Northern Ireland fans.
Gerrard's appointment was confirmed yesterday with the ex-England skipper signing a four-year deal.
It will be Gerrard's first stint as a professional manager after being in charge of Liverpool's under-18 team, guiding them to a third-placed finish this season.
Yet his lack of top-flight experience doesn't seem to be a major factor among avid Rangers supporters here.
Warren Miller (49) is manager at Sandy Row Rangers Club in south Belfast. He attended his first game when he was just 10.
"His age doesn't concern me and I've heard that there's more investment coming in," he said.
"I think it's only a matter of time before we're back at the level we were at. We're going in the right direction."
Gerrard is the second Englishman to take the reins at Ibrox after Mark Warburton's appointment in 2015.
Warburton guided the club to a Championship title and a Scottish Challenge Cup during his tenure. Gerrard, who says he is "honoured", will be Rangers' 10th manager since 2007.
"We're going over tomorrow," Warren said ahead of the game against Kilmarnock at Ibrox.
Rangers sit 13 points behind champions Celtic as they battle for scond place with Aberdeen and Hibernian.
The Hoops, managed by Gerrard's old boss Brendan Rodgers, thrashed Rangers 5-0 at Celtic Park last Sunday to make it seven titles in a row. The defeat led to the sacking of Graeme Murty.
"It was the right time for him (Murty) to go," Warren added.
Brett McLean, who is from Glasgow, has been a season ticket holder since he was three. He said Gerrard's lack of professional managerial experience caused him some concerns but he was optimistic about what the Champions League winner can bring to Govan.
Brett added that he left last week's game at Celtic Park at half-time as the humiliation was too much.
He said: "It's a bit of a risk. Every manager is a bit of a risk. It could go either way but he's a big name and I think it's a risk worth taking."
Former Liverpool midfielder and Scotland international Gary McAllister will be Gerrard's assistant.
"I think they both have the winning mentality Rangers have been lacking in the last couple of years," Brett added.
"I don't want to criticise the board too much because they're much better than those who were in before. But I do think there's a couple of things they've done that have annoyed Rangers fans back home."
Savannah Jackson (20) works at Belfast South Community Resources. The shared space hub provides training for individuals and groups in the area.
"It's amazing. It's possible for Rangers to reach the same heights as before, but I don't want to speak too soon," she said.
Shop owner David Milliken, from Carrickfergus, said that Gerrard was a "top man".
"What other choices are there?" the 46-year-old asked.
"There's nobody better. He'll attract good players. Now the board have to stick with one manager and see that they're the problem.
"There needs to be investment. I actually feel sorry for Murty because he was doing what he could. The players will respect Gerrard or they'll be out the door."
However, it wasn't just Rangers supporters who had their say on the new boss. Celtic fan Trevor Greer was laughing and joking with Rangers fans on the street as they discussed the appointment.
"My opinion would be that it's a bad move for Gerrard," he said.
"Rangers supporters are going to be very fickle.
"What they need is for him to come in and win the league, win the cup and beat Celtic about five times next season."
But his friend Kyle Douglas was slightly more realistic, and said a more pragmatic approach was needed.
"There needs to be an overhaul with new investors. But with him coming in now I think money will come in," he said.
"If it had have been someone else I don't think they'd have got the money."
Former Belfast Celtic and Larne player Stanley Duncan (88) called Gerrard a "football man".
He played for the Belfast team between 1947 and 1949 before joining Larne.
"He'll be very good. Gerrard has to run the place and have full control of the players and how they play," he insisted.
"If not, it will just be the same as before.
"I think they'll get the next league title within three years.
"I hope he does well."
Gerrard officially takes over as manager on June 1 as he honours commitments made to Liverpool and broadcaster BT Sport, where he has been a pundit for three years.