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Saturday 17 November 2018

The four things Steven Gerrard must do when he takes over at Rangers

Liverpool coach Steven Gerrard
Liverpool coach Steven Gerrard

Andy Newport

Steven Gerrard is set to be unveiled as the new Rangers manager at an Ibrox press conference this afternoon.

The appointment of the untested boss will be as big a gamble for the former Liverpool star as it is for the Glasgow giants.

Here we take a look at four matters Gerrard will need to address when he takes charge.

1. CLEARING THE DEADWOOD

If one thing has been made glaringly apparent by the Gers' last two car-crash derby encounters with Celtic it is that that majority of their squad are nowhere near good enough to mount a credible title challenge and will need to make way. There is, though, scope to manoeuvre. David Bates has signed a pre-contract with Hamburg while skipper Lee Wallace and out-of-contract striker Kenny Wallace both appear to have played their last game for the club following a dressing room bust-up. Misfit Dalcio will head back to Benfica once his loan stay ends while fellow Pedro Caixinha signing Carlos Pena is on his way back from Mexico to rejoin compatriot Eduardo Herrara after a stint with Cruz Azul. Both are highly paid but have offered little in return and arranging their departures will be top priorities for the new man. Of the four loanees who arrived in January, only Jamie Murphy can be considered a success, meaning Jason Cummings, Russell Martin and Sean Goss will likely return south. Others such as Andy Halliday, Jason Holt, Michael O'Halloran and Lee Hodson have longer-term deals but are not up to the task.

2. FORMING A CLOSE WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH DAVE KING AND MARK ALLEN

Graeme Murty raised eyebrows after last month's 4-0 Hampden drubbing by Celtic when he revealed he had not heard from Dave King in the wake of that Scottish Cup disaster. Gerrard cannot allow himself to become so detached from Gers' Johannesburg-based chairman. Leadership has been a missing ingredient both on and off the pitch at Ibrox in recent times and the new boss must foster a closer relationship with the man at the top of the Marble Staircase. Working with Allen will also be key. The director of football was praised back in January for identifying the club's four loan signings but they have largely failed to deliver. Allan McGregor and Scott Arfield have already been lined up as the first pieces in the Ibrox rebuilding job but Gerrard needs to quickly establish what he needs from from his head of recruitment.

3. GETTING TO GRIPS WITH THE SCOTTISH GAME

The Ladbrokes Premiership is seen as a backwater set-up for many down south but Gerrard would not be the first interloper to sink in Scotland. One of Caixinha's many mistakes during his seven-month stay was to turn down the chance to sign a number of tried-and-tested Premiership campaigners in favour of bringing in costly foreign imports. Gerrard cannot afford to make the same mistake, especially as buying locally will directly weaken his rivals. Ex-Anfield team-mate and former Scotland captain Gary McAllister appears to have been lined-up as his Ibrox number two but the 53-year-old has not lived north of the border for decades. Finding someone with a more in-depth knowledge of Scottish matters could be just as vital as signing a new centre-half or striker.

4. LIFTING THE MORALE

The loyalty of the Rangers faithful certainly cannot be questioned having packed out Ibrox to the brim even while their team was in the Third Division. But the patience of the Ibrox support is rapidly wearing thin. Since making their return to the top flight last season (when the team ran out to the now much-mocked maxim 'Going for 55'), Gers have played Celtic 11 times, winning none while shipping 30 goals and registering just six in reply - all to the delight of the gleeful Hoops fanbase. The Union Bears led a silent protest at the club's last home game against Hearts and if the malaise is allowed to continue for much longer the fear is season-ticket sales could slump. Hiring a big-name like Gerrard will help reinvigorate the supporters but in the end the only thing to get the fans cheering again will be trophies.

Online Editors

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