| 20.3°C Belfast

Stephen Craigan

Steven Gerrard will be lucky to last another year at Rangers if trophy drought isn't ended

Stephen Craigan


Tough journey: Steven Gerrard still has to deliver on many of his promises to fans

Tough journey: Steven Gerrard still has to deliver on many of his promises to fans

Getty Images

Alfredo Morelos

Alfredo Morelos

Getty Images

Tough journey: Steven Gerrard still has to deliver on many of his promises to fans

In the week when all eyes were focused on Rangers and the SPFL, what slipped past relatively quietly was manager Steven Gerrard celebrating his second anniversary in charge at Ibrox.

There was a bit of surprise when the rookie boss was appointed two years ago but he said the right things initially to convince his doubters that he would get Rangers back to the top.

The former Liverpool hero said he was ready for the challenge and he was confident that he could deliver for the supporters.

So, two years on since the announcement, the lack of trophies tells you that the transition from top footballer to top manager isn't as straightforward as many think it will be.

The two full-time incumbents before Gerrard, Mark Warburton and Pedro Caixinha, also failed to deliver a major trophy and were shown the door.

So, why is Gerrard being treated differently?

First of all, there's no doubt that Gerrard united the players, supporters and board when he took over - unlike previous managers - and that bought him time. His reputation as a player and inner confidence helped unite a disjointed club.

On the pitch, it's fair to say Gerrard's Rangers have shown more potential than previous sides with his two European campaigns in particular bringing a lot of satisfaction to the supporters.

They've had some terrific performances and results against top teams, but long-term that alone won't be enough to pacify the success-starved fans.

This extended lockdown may have shifted the focus away from the manager and his lack of trophies but it certainly doesn't remove the pressure he will be under when football resumes.

What are his highlights so far?

They've shown in one-off games they are a match for Celtic and have given the fans some pride back in that fixture.

A first win at Celtic Park in a long time at the end of 2019 had many thinking the charge was on but it has since proved to be premature.

The head-to-head battles between the big two pre-Gerrard were non-events with Celtic at times toying with Rangers, so at least they don't have to fear an Old Firm derby now.

Clearly the issue has come when trying to back those results up, so Gerrard must address it.

And his biggest disappointments?

There's no doubt the lack of a trophy is the stand-out failure and it will be eating away at Gerrard.

And the fact they've only managed one cup final appearance in four attempts is a disappointing statistic for him too.

The downturn in performances since January when they had momentum has made people question his ability to manage a side when it matters and only he and his players can change that.

Gerrard has had great backing in the transfer market and the board will have expected a better return than what has been delivered.

Everyone at Ibrox will expect that to change next season.

There's been a huge turnover of players from when he took over at a major cost.

I do wonder how much more money he will be afforded without delivering much-needed silverware. The tough economic times ahead may speed that process up as finances will be tightened, then it's down to him to get the best out of the squad he has.

Player-wise, Alfredo Morelos has given him some of his best moments but also provided some of his biggest frustrations with his off-field behaviour.

One of Gerrard's biggest challenges has been keeping him focused and scoring goals.

Ryan Kent, his big summer signing, has threatened to be the X factor they have missed in certain games but consistency has been an issue.

So, what does the future hold?

Gerrard will be aware that if he can't get the trophy cabinet stocked up again then a third anniversary will be unlikely.

At Ibrox, winning is a necessity. The fans must hope that during this time their manager will be plotting the road back to success. Let's wait and see if that is the case.

Belfast Telegraph