Gerrard Leads Rangers’ Revival As Celtic Crumble

File photo of Rangers’ manager Steven Gerrard/AFP

 

Rangers have spent nearly a decade in the doldrums but their revival under Steven Gerrard appears to be coming just in time to stop rivals Celtic from winning a historic 10th consecutive Scottish league title.

The club have had a bumpy ride since they last won the league in 2011. Financial troubles led to liquidation and the club were reformed in the fourth tier of Scottish football.

Rangers returned to the Scottish Premiership in 2016, but even then the turmoil did not end as three managers were dismissed in little over a year trying to bridge the chasm Celtic.

Now it is the blue half of the Glasgow divide that enjoy an 11-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership and are outperforming their rivals on the European stage.

Gerrard’s men are unbeaten in 22 games in all competitions this season, confirming the steady progress he has made since landing his first senior managerial role in 2018.

The former Liverpool captain famously never won a league title as a player, but he will forever be hailed a Rangers’ hero if he denies Celtic the coveted 10-in-a-row.

Gerrard has benefited from a level of patience scarcely afforded to Old Firm managers.

He is the first Rangers manager to begin a third season in charge without winning a trophy in his first two.

Celtic have not just swept the board in the league, but won all of the past 11 domestic trophies on offer in Scotland and can make that 12 in the Scottish Cup final next month.

However, the tide appears to have turned, with Celtic boss Neil Lennon clinging to his job as calls grow from fans for the Northern Irishman to go after a run of two wins in nine games.

“I look at the league table every time we play, I’m not going to deny that,” said Gerrard after a 4-0 demolition of third-placed Aberdeen last weekend.

“But I’ve never known a manager to get carried away in November. I don’t know how many games we’ve played, but there is a lot of football to be played, a lot of challenges, a lot of big hurdles to get over.

“I’d much rather be where we are of course. But stay humble.”

Gamble pays off

The experience of Gerrard’s first two seasons in charge shows much can change in the second half of the season.

In December, for the past two years, Celtic were beaten in a derby to seemingly set up a proper title race, only to come back stronger as Rangers wilted in the New Year.

Celtic have two games in hand that could cut the gap to five points, but the Cup final means the Hoops will miss another league match in December, offering Rangers the chance to establish a 14-point lead before the sides meet again on January 2.

Sustained progress in the Europa League over the past three seasons has allowed Rangers to build a depth of squad that should last the course domestically.

The club’s accounts released last week show the faith that has been placed in Gerrard in terms of their willingness to build a strong squad — the operating loss for the year increased from £11.6 million ($15.4 million) to £15.9 million.

Unlike Celtic, who have consistently sold their biggest assets to keep balancing the books, Rangers’ investors are banking on Gerrard delivering a title and potentially Champions League football next season before selling any major players.

“I think the important thing to know is that this team is in much better shape than it was when we came through the door,” said Gerrard, in defence of those figures.

“The team is littered now with big assets. The team is worth an awful lot of money now compared to what it was.”

That gamble is paying off. Rangers are off to their best league start in 53 years, with 13 wins and just three goals conceded in their opening 15 games.

Gerrard’s men also top a Europa League group containing Benfica and saw off Galatasaray in qualifying.

Celtic’s consistency has set the bar in a nine-year run, but the Rangers are now the ones with a ruthless streak.

AFP

Gerrard Concerned Despite Rangers’ Late Win Over St Johnstone

Gerrard Concerned Despite Rangers' Late Win Over St Johnstone
(File) Steven Gerrard

 

Steven Gerrard believes his players didn’t do the Rangers shirt “any justice” in a laboured first-half performance before bouncing back thanks to two Alfredo Morelos goals to beat St Johnstone 2-1 on Sunday.

The Colombian took his tally for the season to 19 with the winner two minutes from time as Rangers closed to within a point behind Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic, who have a game in hand.

Gerrard’s men had won just one of their previous four games to fall four points behind their Glasgow rivals with the two sides set to meet at Ibrox on December 29.

Another tough afternoon looked on the cards for the visitors at McDiarmid Park when Matty Kennedy’s rising drive gave St Johnstone the lead on the stroke of half-time.

“The first 45 minutes I wasn’t happy, far from it. It was a poor performance, we were awful,” Gerrard told BT Sport.

“We didn’t have one player out there that was doing the shirt any justice, so I certainly wasn’t happy.”

Gerrard introduced Glenn Middleton for Eros Grezda at half-time and the change helped turn the game as Rangers improved dramatically in the second period.

“I made my feelings clear at half-time, made some changes to the 11 and to be fair to the players they played with more bravery, belief and character and gone out there and performed like Rangers players in the second half,” added Gerrard.

“But we shouldn’t have to work that hard to win at places like this with all due respect.”

Middleton’s measured cross picked out Morelos to head home the equaliser 25 minutes from time.

Only Zander Clark in the St Johnstone goal then kept the hosts level as he denied Daniel Candeias and Kyle Lafferty twice with stunning saves.

However, Clark was helpless when Morelos met James Tavernier’s cross to score to spark wild scenes of celebration from the players and fans, but not their manager who remained stoney faced on the sidelines.

“I’m still thinking about the first half,” said Gerrard when asked why he didn’t celebrate.

“I’m thinking big picture where we can take this squad and players. To be fair we are quite bare today in terms of numbers, but that first-half concerned me because what we asked of them before the game just clearly wasn’t there.”

AFP

Gerrard’s Rangers Beat Hearts To Top Premiership

Gerrard's Rangers Beat Hearts To Top Premiership
(File) Rangers’ English manager Steven Gerrard (R) congratulates Rangers’ Scottish goalkeeper Allan McGregor after the UEFA Europa League Group G football match between Rangers and Villarreal at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland on November 29, 2018. The game finished 0-0. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

 

Ten-man Rangers beat Hearts 2-1 on Sunday to climb to the top of the Scottish Premiership, with Alfredo Morelos grabbing a contentious winner for Steven Gerrard’s team.

With leaders Celtic busy on League Cup final duty, the Ibrox men travelled to Tynecastle looking to grab the title race initiative against a side without a win in five games.

Gareth McAuley put through his own net in the 27th minute but the Northern Ireland defender was bailed out when his centre-back partner Connor Goldson bundled home the equaliser and Morelos clinched the win shortly before half-time.

Rangers found themselves reduced to 10 men when Scott Arfield was dismissed in the second half but they held on for the win.

Hearts took a deserved lead when McAuley diverted the ball into his own net after a cross from Marcus Godinho.

But the visitors were level just eight minutes later as Morelos nudged a James Tavernier corner to the back post where Goldson forced the ball past goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal and over the line at the second attempt.

Rangers scored again shortly before the interval following a Tavernier free-kick.

Colombian forward Morelos started in an offside position as Tavernier lined up the free-kick wide on the right but the officials failed to spot his encroachment and Morelos made the most of the let-off as his side-foot shot took a nick off Oliver Bozanic before nestling into the far corner.

Hearts were thrown a lifeline with 18 minutes left as Arfield got his marching orders for a challenge on Zlamal but Rangers stayed on the front foot and Hearts could not make the most of their man advantage.

AFP

Rangers’ Manager Gerrard Warns Players After Livingston Loss

Steven Gerrard

 

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard warned his side could forget about winning the Scottish Premiership title if they suffered many more repeats of Sunday’s shock 1-0 loss away to Livingston.

Defeat left Rangers in sixth place and meant they were now eight points adrift of leaders Hearts just seven games into the season.

Craig Levein’s table-toppers from Edinburgh travel to Ibrox next weekend and former England midfielder Gerrard has demanded a response from the Glasgow giants.

“Hearts was a must-win game whether we won, drew or lost today,” he said. “They are the team to chase right now, they have come out of the blocks flying.

“It is still early on in the season so we can recover from a result like this like we recovered from the Old Firm loss. But this can’t keep happening.

“When we come and play teams like Livingston we have to try and take maximum points, otherwise we won’t be in the title race.”

Promoted Livingston moved up to third with a victory that handed Gerrard just his second defeat in 18 games as Rangers boss.

Dolly Menga’s 34th-minute goal was enough to separate the sides as Livingston moved level on points with second-placed Hibernian, who are ahead on goal difference.

Rangers have yet to record an away league win under Gerrard this season.

Before they face Hearts, Gerrard’s side have a Europa League match at home to Austrian side Rapid Vienna on Tuesday.

Victory saw Livingston extend their unbeaten league run to six games, with coach Gary Holt yet to lose since taking over last month from Kenny Miller.

Their decisive goal against Rangers came from a free-kick with Declan Gallagher and Scott Robinson involved before Menga scored from inside the box to the delight of home fans at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

“We were nowhere near good enough in the final third,” said Gerrard. “We could be playing for another 180 minutes and wouldn’t look like scoring.”

Meanwhile, Holt insisted that for all Livingston had made a fine start to the season, avoiding relegation remained the priority.

“I’ll enjoy tonight like everyone else,” he said. “But until we are mathematically safe, that’s when I’ll start looking at what else we could achieve.

“Make no bones about it, we were the favourites to go down.

“We are still the favourites. We could lose seven games in a row. It’s early days.”

AFP

Gerrard Wishes He Was Playing In Old Firm Debut

Steven Gerrard Unveiled As New Rangers Boss
Former England and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard smiles as he holds up a Rangers scarf in the trophy room as he is unveiled as Rangers’ new manager at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland on May 4, 2018. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

 

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard is prepared for the cauldron of Celtic Park in his first taste of the Old Firm derby on Sunday but wishes he was still playing rather than taking charge of the visitors.

Legendary former Liverpool captain Gerrard has made an impressive start to his first senior managerial role in Glasgow.

Rangers are unbeaten in 12 games under Gerrard and sealed their place in the Europa League group stages, where they will face Villarreal, Rapid Vienna and Spartak Moscow, on Thursday by holding out for a 1-1 draw at Russian side Ufa despite being reduced to nine men.

The blue side of the Glasgow divide were thrashed 5-0 on their last visit to Celtic Park as the Scottish champions sealed a seventh straight title in May.

But Gerrard’s arrival and 14 new signings have injected a fresh air of optimism at Ibrox over the past three months.

“This is a big game for me of course, I can’t compare it to playing but I wish I was on Sunday,” said Garrard. “These are the games you want to be part of.

“We know Celtic will come out the blocks quick to try and get the crowd going. We have to be ready from the first whistle.”

Gerrard’s former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has an excellent record in Old Firm games since taking charge of Celtic two years ago.

The Northern Irishman has overseen nine wins and two draws in 11 meetings with Rangers, racking up an aggregate score of 30-6 in the process.

But Gerrard believes his side showed a resolve not seen in many years at Rangers with a robust defensive display to seal a 2-1 aggregate win in Russia in midweek and can cross the city confident of a first victory at Celtic Park since 2010 on Sunday.

“It’s a big game on Sunday against a tough team so we have to recover and prepare well. We are going there confident,” added Gerrard.

“We have players in the squad with experience playing in front of a big crowd but we are aware of the challenge of playing away from home.

“We feel like we are building something special here, these are the sort of games we want to be a part of and it will be fantastic for the supporters and the squad.”

AFP

Mixed Feelings For Gerrard After First Premiership Win

Steven Gerrard Unveiled As New Rangers Boss
Former England and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard smiles as he holds up a Rangers scarf in the trophy room as he is unveiled as Rangers’ new manager at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland on May 4, 2018. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

 

Former Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard complimented his Rangers players in delivering him his first victory as manager in the Scottish Premiership but warned them to improve their discipline following the 2-0 win over St Mirren on Sunday.

Gerrard’s side had shown great resolve to take the three points as Ross McCrorie got a straight red card just after the half-hour mark for a professional foul on Nicolai Brock-Madsen.

However, they were already 2-0 up when McCrorie was sent off.

Alfredo Morelos, who was sent off last weekend although his red card has been rescinded and reduced to a yellow, got his third goal of the season after some sloppy St Mirren defending and center-back Connor Goldson struck with his first goal for the club to give Rangers a two-goal advantage.

“I’ve spoken to the team and praised them for the result,” said Gerrard, whose side opened with a 1-1 draw with Aberdeen last weekend and are two points off leaders Hearts after two matches.

“But I’ve also spoken about discipline and composure out there.

“It’s difficult enough with 11 men. We’re picking up too many red and yellow cards for my liking. But we’ll learn, grow and keep going.”

Goldson went close to making it 3-0 as his header hit the post.

St Mirren had very little to offer although Danny Mullen, who has been in fine form with three to his name this term, hit the bar.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers quashed suggestions he could walk away from the Scottish champions due to disagreements with the club’s board over transfer spending despite falling to an early season 1-0 defeat at Hearts on Saturday.

Rodgers has masterminded two consecutive domestic trebles since joining the Glasgow giants, but publicly voiced his frustration at not adding to his squad before a 1-1 draw at home to Greek champions AEK Athens in the Champions League third qualifying round in midweek.

Northern Irish veteran Kyle Lafferty’s fine strike from the edge of the box 11 minutes after half-time sent Craig Levein’s men to the top of the table with maximum points from their opening two games.

“Of course we want quality players but there’s still improvement in this squad, this team, lots of young players so we’ll continue to work with and improve them,” said Rodgers.

“I love my life here. Despite all reports, there’s talk of ultimatums with the board, I don’t work that way, my communication is very open, so that’s certainly not the case.”

AFP

Steven Gerrard Unveiled As New Rangers Boss

Steven Gerrard Unveiled As New Rangers Boss
Former England and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard smiles as he holds up a Rangers scarf in the trophy room as he is unveiled as Rangers’ new manager at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland on May 4, 2018. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

 

Rangers unveiled former Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard as their new manager on Friday, handing the rookie boss the daunting task of ending Celtic’s domination of the Scottish Premiership.

Gerrard, who has previously only worked with Liverpool’s Under-18s, takes the helm of the giant club who have fallen on hard times in the past decade despite winning a record 54 Scottish titles.

Celtic — under Brendan Rodgers, Gerrard’s former boss at Anfield — are bidding for an unprecedented successive treble and are unbeaten against their Old Firm rivals in 11 games but Gerrard said he could not wait to get his teeth into the new role.

“I’m very aware of Rangers, the size of the club, I’ve watched them from afar and been lucky enough to watch some of the Old Firm games,” he told a press conference at the club’s Ibrox stadium.

“It was a no-brainer for me. There were a lot of different things to think about but from that first phone call I got a special feeling and I knew that Rangers were for me.”

Gerrard, who named former Liverpool team-mate Gary McAllister as his assistant, said he could not help his lack of experience, adding that he had missed the pressure of fighting for three points since he stopped playing.

“I know there will be a lot of pressure and a lot of scrutiny but that’s what I love about football,” added the 37-year-old, who hung up his boots in 2016 after a 12-month stint with LA Galaxy.

Chairman Dave King said Gerrard “ticked every box” other than experience.

“A lot of the other managers who have been named, they have had experience but that experience was not necessarily good,” he said. “Steven’s character outweighed his inexperience.”

– Inspirational captain –

Gerrard was an inspirational captain and Champions League winner in a 17-year career at Anfield but now faces a different challenge against Celtic, who sealed the Scottish title on Sunday with a 5-0 thumping of Rangers.

The arrival of the former England midfielder will restore some star power to a league that has found it increasingly hard to attract and hold onto top players against the booming television revenues of the Premier League.

Rangers are still recovering from the fallout of their liquidation in 2012 and subsequent demotion to the fourth tier of Scottish football.

In their second season back in the top flight, Rangers trail Celtic by 13 points, and are locked in a battle with Aberdeen and Hibernian just to finish second.

Celtic’s Rodgers, speaking before the official announcement, had warm words for his former player.

“As a guy he was ultra-professional, (he had) incredible qualities as a footballer,” he said.

“That level of professionalism all his career made him a great player so I am sure he will take all those attributes into management.”

Rangers fans excited by the prospect of Gerrard’s arrival said he could help the club recruit better-quality players in what is expected to be a busy transfer window.

But the club still have to overcome a huge financial disparity with Celtic. Bolstered by revenue from the Champions League, Celtic’s £90 million ($122 million) turnover last year was three times that of their Old Firm rivals.

Caretaker manager Graeme Murty, who had been promoted from his role as the club’s under-20 coach, was sacked this week after six months in charge.

AFP

Gerrard Happy About Continho’s New Contract Decision

coach-gerrardFormer Liverpool Captain, Steven Gerrard, has expressed his excitement over Phillippe Coutinho’s decision to sign a new five-year deal at Anfield on Wednesday.

He said Coutinho has a significant part to play in the future of the club.

The 24-year-old will become the club’s highest-earning player, with his new contract keeping at the club until the end of the 2021/22 campaign.

Coutinho has scored 34 goals in 163 appearances for Liverpool.

Gerrard is also relishing his new role at Liverpool as a youth coach.

He played with Coutinho for two-and-a-half seasons after the Brazilian’s £8.5 million move to Liverpool from Inter Milan in 2013, and witnessed his development firsthand.

Speaking of his former team mate, he said:

“I think for any team, you’ve already got to try and keep your best players.

“Philippe’s been instrumental over the last couple of years, he’s grown and become a world-class talent.

“I’ve trained against him on a daily basis and I’ve played with, and he’s a phenomenal footballer.

“He can do magical things with the ball and he’s the type of footballer you want to try and build your team around.

“And if Liverpool are to be successful in the coming years, I’m sure he’ll have a part to play in it—he’s a magical player,” Gerrard stressed.

Gerrard Elated To Be Back With Liverpool

Steven Gerrard, LiverpoolFormer England International, Steven Gerrard, says he is exited to return home and to his former club, Liverpool.

The former captain of the English club, however, said he was also “nervous and anxious” about his impending return to Anfield as a youth coach.

“Liverpool are prepared to help me an awful lot.

“They want to help me to become a better coach or a better manager, but at the same time I’ve got to commit to it and put in the hard work,” the 36-year-old, told BBC.

Gerrard is expected to commence his coaching job with Liverpool in February.

He made his debut for the club in 1998 and retired from playing in 2016.

The former England player made his 500th league appearance for the Reds in a goalless draw against West Brom on 25 April.

The appearance saw him become the third player ever to achieve 500 or more Premier League appearances for one club, after Ryan Giggs and Jamie Carragher.

How FA Intends To Bring Ex-footballers Back To The Game

Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard, FA, Ex-footballersThe Football Association has begun training of retired footballers aimed at preventing former England internationals from quitting the game.

Former Manchester United midfielder, Paul Scholes is already taking part in a pilot FA programme, while contacts have been made with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard about getting involved in the scheme.

FA Technical Director, Dan Ashworth, said on Monday that “St George’s Park is very much open to ex-England players.

“We are keen to get more English coaches either working with our national teams or back into the Premier League or Football League as coaches and managers.

“I have been in regular contact with several current and ex-England internationals about a pilot programme.”

Individuals are assessed and then the FA puts together a learning programme.

For Scholes, the assessment would determine whether he has the right skills to coach other players how to pass the ball.

This would be based on his playing career which shows he has all the practical ability required to demonstrate the skill.

Wayne Rooney Named On The Bench Against Slovenia

England-Wayne-RooneyEngland is set to drop Captain Wayne Rooney to the bench for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.

In order to prevent last-minute injuries, Manager Gareth Southgate would leave the 30-year-old English forward out of the starting 11.

Southgate would address the press in Slovenia at 18:30 BST on Monday.

Former England’s national team manager, Sam Allardyce, had described Rooney as the right choice to lead the team.

Coach Allardyce said that the Manchester United skipper was hugely respected by his peers and has enjoyed the responsibility as captain.

Rooney is England’s record goal scorer and took on the armband from Steven Gerrard in 2015.

Rooney Is Right Choice To Lead England – Allardyce

Sam-Allardyce-Wayne-Rooney-EnglandEngland’s national team manager, Sam Allardyce, says Wayne Rooney is the right choice to lead the team.

Coach Allardyce said that the Manchester United skipper was hugely respected by his peers and has enjoyed the responsibility as captain.

“You would hope the captain would make a decision on the pitch if he felt it needed to (be made).

“For me, that’s the captain’s role. It’s a big responsibility at club level and even more so at international level. First and foremost lead by example.

“It’s all about the personality. Can you handle the responsibility of being captain? I think he has enjoyed the responsibility. Some players don’t want that responsibility,” BBC quoted the 61-year-old as saying.

Rooney is England’s record goal scorer and took on the armband from Steven Gerrard last year.

The England squad is preparing for Sunday’s opening 2018 World Cup qualifier in Slovakia.