Kop Idol: Steven Gerrard must learn from Liverpool greats if he is to succeed in Scotlandby Matthew Crist / 28 February 2019, 08:52Tweet
The appointment of the Liverpool legend certainly raised more than a few eyebrows at the time but Steven Gerrard wouldn’t be the first Anfield favourite to change the fortunes of the Ibrox club as they look to step out of Celtic’s shadow once more.
When Graeme Souness was lured back to these shores from Serie A in 1986 after a spell with Sampdoria he set about revolutionising a Rangers team which had been languishing in the wilderness of Scottish football for too long; changing the face of the club in the process.
Replacing the great Jock Wallace to become the club’s first ever player-manager- the hard tackling midfielder, who was a three-time European Cup winner during his time with Liverpool, wasted no time in transforming the landscape in Scotland, smashing the club’s rigid wage structure to tempt some of the biggest names in England to join his Rangers revolution.
In five years at Ibrox he won three league titles and four League Cups while laying the foundations for the club to go on and claim nine titles in a row under the leadership of his trusty right-hand man Walter Smith.
Departing the club for Liverpool in April 1991, Souness left behind a legacy that is still revered by every Rangers supporter but those heady days now seem a dim and distant memory for many with Gers fans once again pinning their hopes on another former Kop idol to change their fortunes.
The Light Blues hadn’t won the league for eight years before the arrival of Souness and with Rangers not lifting the title since 2011 the Ibrox faithful will be hoping that Gerrard’s arrival might have a similar impact in the coming years, but with his side already lagging some way behind their arch rivals what grounds for optimism do Rangers fans have that things will change anytime soon?
Like Souness, Gerrard has brought a number of English players with him to the club and since he arrived in Glasgow in 2018 the former Reds captain has supplemented his Ibrox squad and coaching staff with plenty of talent from Anfield.
As well as appointing former midfield partner McAllister as his assistant, following a short spell coaching at Liverpool in 2015 and stints as manager at Coventry and Leeds, former Liverpool U23 coach Michael Beale is now part of Gerrard's first-team coaching set-up along with Tom Culshaw and Jordan Milsom who both worked with Gerard at Liverpool.
Gerrard also bolstered his squad with a number of players who followed him north from Merseyside, namely former Liverpool defender Flanagan, who he signed on a free transfer in June, along with Talented youngster Ejaria, after he sealed a season-long loan to Rangers last summer and 21-year-old winger Ryan Kent who has had previous loan spells at Coventry, Barnsley, Freiburg and Bristol City.
But as well as a strong recruitment policy Gerrard knows he’ll need to bring a feeling of positivity back to Ibrox if the club are ever going to make the Scottish Premiership their target once more; something which former Rangers hero Ally McCoist believes he is more than capable of doing.
"You have to say that things appear to be heading in the right direction under Steven Gerrard.” He told The Sunday Post.
"He has the team playing good football and scoring goals for fun.
"The fans are excited and turning up on a match day expecting things to happen. The feelgood factor is back and that’s a good sign."
As well as both being European Cup winners and firm fan favourites at Anfield the similarities between Gerard and Souness don’t end there. They were both fierce competitors on the field, something which the new Rangers boss must emulate off the park if he is to bring the glory days back to Govan.
Of course, the Rangers that Gerrard now finds himself in charge of is a long way from that which Souness took over some 30 years ago, with the club still reeling from the financial misgivings which saw them relegated to the third-tier of Scottish football before starting the long road back to the top-flight.
And despite the air of positivity which surrounds Gerrard's appointment to date he only has to look at the experience of another Liverpool legend who took his first managerial role in Scotland, before it all ended in tears somewhat prematurely.
John Barnes lasted less than a season as Celtic head coach as part of a 'dream team' under director of football Kenny Dalglish in 1999 and was sacked following a shock Scottish Cup defeat by Inverness Caledonian Thistle, a stark reminder for anyone who believes that Scottish football is purely a place to cut your managerial teeth before moving on to bigger and better things.
But if Gerard can use the experiences of his fellow Liverpool greats, both good and bad, there is no reason why he can’t become a legend at Ibrox in his own right; though one thing is for sure, success won’t come overnight.