Steven Gerrard’s slip in 2014 against Chelsea cost Liverpool the league and extinguished Brendan Rodger’s chances of having his name written in Liverpool folklore. Now Steven Gerrard stands in his way of becoming a Celtic legend, by stopping the Ulsterman from claiming an eighth successive title for the Hoops.
But how realistic is that? Can this Anfield great transform the beleaguered ‘Gers into title contenders? Or like his pursuit for a Premier League title, will it ultimately end in failure? Here we take a look at Gerrard’s chances of breaking Celtic’s dominance next season.
Is he tactically astute?
During Sven Goran-Erikkson’s reign as England manager, he was blessed with midfield greats such as Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Steven Gerrard. Lampard consistently netted 20+ goals a season for Chelsea and Gerrard seemingly won games on his own for Liverpool.
Yet the two couldn’t play together, and one of the reasons for that was Gerrard’s tactical ineptitude. Whilst Lampard had shown himself adept at following a tactical plan under Mourinho, Gerrard only flourished when partnered with Xabi Alonso – a canny operator with a sharp footballing brain.
All too often Gerrard would abandon his responsibilities and scupper England’s attacks with predictable ‘Hollywood’ passes. If his disregard of tactics from his playing career is anything to go by, then his time at Ibrox will be short-lived.
Much has been made of the expected wave of Liverpool loanee’s at Ibrox, but so far the new manager has opted to find most of his talent from elsewhere. Scott Arfield, Allan McGregor, Connor Goldson and Ovi Ejaria have all joined the ‘Gers.
Jon Flanagan is the only incoming player with links to Gerrard’s former club, and whilst signings from Brighton, Sunderland and Burnley might not be inspiring, they seem more astute than bringing in second-rate Liverpool rejects. The signing have ensured that Rangers are now 12/1 for the title, second favourites to Celtic.
The transfer market is a crowded place at the moment and Rangers, like Celtic, simply do not have the allure or the money of most Championship clubs never mind Premier League outfits. If Rangers are to be successful they need to maximise the transfer market as Celtic did when David Moss was the head of recruitment.
Moss was the man responsible for bringing players such as Victor Wanyama, Virgil Van Dijk and Moussa Dembele to Parkhead, with the Hoops making substantial profits on most of their player purchases.
Gerrard needs to bring the right scouting team into Ibrox in the hope of emulating Celtic’s transfer success. If he doesn’t, then he won’t stand a chance of challenging Brendan Rodgers as Rangers’ current squad isn’t up to much.
As much as analysis of Gerrard’s history and style is helpful, it doesn’t give any clear indicators. With the notable exception of Leicester City, the bookies have always tended to get things right in football.
Manchester City and Celtic were the bookies favourites for their domestic leagues last season and Real Madrid were the favourites for the Champions League.