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Steven Gerrard & Rangers: Why they can be perfect for eachother if certain decisions made...

COMMENT: A penny for 'em, Steven. 5-0 at Parkhead. So, so far behind Celtic. Is the Rangers job really worth the bother?

Of course it bloody well is! And by that performance on Sunday, those in the away dressing room have made walking into Ibrox next month as manager all the more easier for Steven Gerrard.

At time of writing, Liverpool's U18 coach was still weighing it all up. "50-50" some claimed of chairman Dave King's chances of getting his man. But from Sunday's display, the players he'll inherit have made Gerrard's start all the more easier.

It'll be a clean slate. There won't be any push back for any player he wants rid of. If he wanted to, Gerrard could rip through the entire playing staff and start again. And no-one would argue against it. After Sunday, how could they?

Put all the cliches to one side. Y'know, the usual stuff: he'll put Rangers on the map. He'll attract better players to the club. Etc, etc. What will make or break Gerrard will be those he appoints to support him.

More than Brendan Rodgers and Rafa Benitez, that will have been the message from Jurgen Klopp. There's a reason (well, two) why Klopp's management has made steady progress from Mainz to Borussia Dortmund and now with Liverpool. Their names are Zeljko Buvac and Peter Krawietz. The three of them have been together since those Mainz days. Choose your staff wisely Steven, that will have been Klopp's advice.

The good money is on Gary McAllister being Gerrard's No2. On paper, it looks a great choice. Former Reds captain. Former teammate. A character. A leader. But the Scot is also someone who's been out of the coaching game for almost three years. As a sounding board, he could be perfect. But Gerrard needs some know-how to lean on. Someone up to date on the local game. Mark Allen, the club's director of football, will know this. If he gets his signature on a Gers contract, Allen knows getting the right staff around Gerrard will make or break this venture.

Allen is already playing his part. We've learned Gerrard has asked about their free agency work and welcomed news that Scott Arfield will arrive from Burnley and Allan McGregor from Hull City. Arfield's signing, particularly, will lift standards immediately.

This column has long argued the SPL is the perfect launching pad for any young foreigner wanting to break into the Premier League. The standard is competitive, without it being overwhelming. The football is high-octane, aggressive - without it being kick and rush. And you're playing under the noses of Premier League clubs and in front of their scouts every week.

It was the pitch when this column was working with agents seeking to place young, ambitious players at SPL clubs. The draw. The benefits. They were obvious. Especially for talented, but relatively unknown youngsters needing to find a launching pad for their European career.

But swap an agent and some muppet who writes about the game for a living with the credibility and aura that Gerrard exudes and there's no limit to what he and Allen can achieve together in the transfer market.

It's significant that Jose Mourinho, the Manchester United manager, was happy to send Demi Mitchell to Craig Levein's Hearts this season. Like Scott McTominay, there's a lot expectation around Mitchell. And rather than place him at a Championship club, Mourinho saw his progress better served north of the border. So if it's good enough for Mourinho...

There's no doubt the global profile of Gerrard will be good for Rangers. But this works both ways. The buzz around Brendan Rodgers in recent weeks is proof of that. Celtic hardly pulled up any trees in the Champions League this season, but Rodgers is still being mentioned with the jobs at Arsenal and Chelsea. There'd have been little chance of similar recognition if he'd taken the offer to return to Swansea City three years ago. If Gerrard can make it work at Ibrox, the world will beat a path to his door.

But it is a gamble. More so for Gerrard than Rangers. The club will live on - no matter what the future brings. But for Gerrard, there is the danger of 'doing a (John) Barnes'. The former Liverpool man never recovered from his time at Celtic. His management career effectively destroyed. Indeed, given his playing achievements, this column would argue he never reached his potential as a pundit given the damage from his Parkhead experience.

So it is a risk. But that's life at the top of this industry. And as strong as Gerrard's self-belief is, he must know such an opportunity may not come around again.

There's another Reds great who kicked off his managerial career at Rangers. And 32 years on Graeme Souness, who never leaves you second guessing, offered Gerrard his two-bob's worth. And more than anyone, he couldn't have put it better:

"If Steven decides to go there… not the best time to manage Glasgow Rangers because of the difficulties, but what a job.

“You go up there, you get it half right, and he'd be a god. Football is everything in Glasgow.

“If he's got the chance, go for it son because you never know what the future holds. You might never get a chance to take up a job like that again."

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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