The announcement of Steven Gerrard as the new manager on Rangers was met with a mix of excitement and anticipation.
Gers have been one of the busiest sides in Europe during the transfer window with ten players brought in, with three of them arriving from Gerrard’s former side, Liverpool.
That was the biggest expectation when Gerrard started work. His links with Liverpool would have been a major reason why he was one of the front runners for one of the biggest jobs in Britain.
There is no doubt that in order for Rangers to compete there had to be a major squad overhaul. Although the signings of Ovie Ejaria and Ryan Kent are risky considering both players are young, they can use Celtic’s loanee Patrick Roberts as a sign that these kind of risks can pay off in the SPL.
Much excitement was built up further with the announcement of the loan of Umar Sadiq from Italian giants, Roma. The Nigerian was on-loan last season at Dutch outfit NAC Breda where he scored six goals in 12 appearances.
It’s not all about youth for Gerrard as he has brought in some experienced talent in the form of Jon Flanagan, Allan McGregor and Scott Arfield. The signing of Arfield raised eyebrows as he was an important fixture in the excellent Burnley side last season.
Arfield addressed these questions in his first interview since signing, when he said: “If you don’t get excited by it, you shouldn’t walk through the front door,” he said. “It has given a boost to the whole game in this country. Gerrard is one of the top three players of my generation. I’ll listen to everything he and his staff have to say and hopefully take my game to the next level.”
The importance of Gerrard shouldn’t be undervalued.
Although his skill set and experience will be questioned once things go wrong, the impact he has had on the SPL already has made the Scottish game more relevant and has seen it get widespread attention, something that hasn’t been the case since Rangers were competing for the league back in 2011.
What followed with Rangers and their relegation was unprecedented dominance by Celtic in all domestic competitions. Rangers could only watch as they fought their way back from the fourth tier, in a tough four year period Rangers finally made it back but it was not all the same.
Rangers were clearly not the force that they were before the liquidation and they simply could not compete with Celtic. Even last season, there was a clear divide between the two sides. The last league meeting of the season saw Celtic run out big winners 5-0 while the Scottish Cup semi final also ended in an embarrassing 4-0 defeat.
Time will tell whether Rangers will be able to compete this season but fans will be expecting the title race to be a lot tighter and possibly even one trophy to be returned for good measure. The dominance of Celtic will make it hard to challenge but the bare minimum that will be expected would be a progression in the side and their style of play.
The signs are already looking good with four competitive Europa League games already played, Gerrard’s new look side have yet to concede a goal and have earned their spot into the third qualifying round. Ominous signs.
Gary McAllister’s arrival will also be vital to how Rangers will be able to adapt to Gerrard and vice-versa also. The Scot was most notable for his time with Liverpool; in which he was the captain to Gerrard but he also managed the national side for nine years and is very familiar to the SPL.
Betway have a lot of special football bets available online including Rangers to win the SPL, which is currently priced at 15/2. While further prices are available for Gers to win the domestic Scottish Cup. In this online betting market there are currently third favourites at 6/1.
So, how will Gerrard deal with life at Rangers? Will it be a success? Only time will tell.
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