Steven Gerrard will spark Ibrox revolution, predicts Jimmy Nicholl
Jimmy Nicholl has backed Steven Gerrard to fire Rangers back to the top of Scottish football - if the club provides the financial support needed to strengthen the squad.
The Northern Ireland legend, who was put in caretaker charge of Rangers after Graeme Murty was axed, believes the former Liverpool hero can revive the Ibrox men's fortunes and he dismissed fears over Gerrard's lack of managerial experience.
It is his first senior managerial role having previously been in charge of Liverpool Under-18s.
But Gers chairman Dave King has promised Gerrard the transfer budget he needs this summer and Nicholl, who watched his side draw 1-1 with Aberdeen last night, says the 37-year-old can help the club close the gap to fierce rivals Celtic.
"People talk a lot about inexperience but I don't get that," said Nicholl who had two spells with Rangers in the 1980s.
"It's about making important decisions. I was player-manager of Raith Rovers when I was 33 and I had to make decisions to drop senior players. Thirty years later I'm still making decisions and you don't get them right all the time, it's about making good decisions.
"I think he will do great if he gets the backing. "
Nicholl added: “Graeme Souness went there in 1986 and he brought in the England captain Terry Butcher and goalkeeper Chris Woods.
“I went in after Graeme Souness was still playing and he was able to add a real backbone and spine to the team. That’s what it takes to win games in Scotland.
“He will need to sign players who don’t just get the Rangers thing, but are winners and can handle the pressure of playing in front of 50,000.”
The 61-year-old, who was inducted into the Malcolm Brodie Hall of Fame at the Northern Ireland Football Awards on Monday night, admits Gerrard will need to bring leaders and winners to the club.
“It’s a big challenge,” he added. “I thought to myself, this is great, the club is second in the league, but if you don’t match Celtic in the games then it becomes a crisis.
“You’ve got to have a team on the park totally committed to winning a football match, he will find out that there are good players there who want to be successful but there are a few who don’t get it and he will need to change that.”
Nicholl will hold talks with Gerrard next week regarding his future at the club and he may have to step aside as the former England international brings in his own backroom team, including Gary McAllister as assistant.
“Mark Allen keeps in touch with Steven (Gerrard) and we have to see what happens,” said the man who was brought up in Rathcoole after being born in Canada.
“We will keep going until the end of the season and try to secure second place.
“You never wish your life away but hopefully we can get a couple of victories to restore a bit of pride, secure second place and get the club into Europe so that when Steven comes in he has a good platform to build on.
“I will speak to Steven next week and if it doesn’t work out for me then I’ve enjoyed my time here.
“It came out of the blue, it did not work out for Graeme (Murty), which is disappointing for him, but I’ve had the honour of working there.”
Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill, who was the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Monday to see his number two in the international set-up, joined in the tributes to the man who won 73 caps and played an heroic role in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups under Billy Bingham.
“Jimmy was one of the greatest full-backs we ever had,” said O’Neill.
“If many of our players had the career Jimmy had they would be delighted.
“It’s what he brings to the squad, his experience is invaluable but he’s also a great man to have around the squad.
“He’s got a great knowledge of the game and been great for me and the backroom staff.
“Certainly, I know the players hold him in the highest regard.
“It’s not for me to say Jimmy should stay on at Rangers but I’d like to see him stay in the game as long as possible.
“He’s invaluable to me, he will always work alongside me and whatever his club situation is we hope it ties in with the great work we are doing with the international team.”
Rangers’ 1-1 draw at Aberdeen last night means the Ibrox men remain in third spot, a point behind the Dons.