Rangers supporters have needed little encouragement so far to buy into the notion of Steven Gerrard affecting the kind of transformation in the fortunes of their club they have craved for so long.
According to Connor Goldson, one of the new manager’s summer recruits, those high expectations are about to be met head-on by a group of players already fully committed to the vision being laid out for them by the former Liverpool and England captain.
The Rangers fans will get their first glimpse of life under Gerrard at Ibrox tonight with over 35,000 tickets sold for a friendly against English fourth tier outfit Bury. Defender Goldson, a £3 million signing from Brighton, believes those fans who have chosen to opt out of the rival attraction of the Brazil-Belgium World Cup quarter-final on TV won’t be disappointed.
“They can expect energy, they can expect to see an exciting style of football that requires the players to work hard,” said the 25-year-old.
“I think the fans will buy into that. They want to see players work hard, giving everything. That is one of the main things the manager has put across to us. He wants everyone to go out for 90-plus minutes and he wants them to come off the pitch drained and dead on their feet. That is something we are going to have to do. If we do that, the fans will be on our side. Obviously we know we will have ups and downs during the course of a season, but if the fans know you are giving 100 per cent in every single game they will only be with you.
“The messages from the manager have been simple but clear and that is the main thing that you want as a player. You don’t want to be over-complicated by things, you don’t want to come away from meetings or training thinking there has been too much information and you can’t take certain bits of it in.
“Everything so far has been delivered clearly, it has been simple instructions, there has never been an overload of information. There have just been little points each day about how we want to work and that has come across well, both in training and in the closed-door friendly against TNS on Tuesday.
“We moved the ball at a quick tempo and the way we wanted to play came across well – the pressing style and the way we went after them. I was really happy and impressed by the team’s work.
“Hopefully the points the manager is trying to make will show again in the game on Friday night.”
Goldson is expected to form a central defensive partnership at Rangers with fellow new recruit Nikola Katic in the coming season. But it remains an area of Gerrard’s squad lacking in cover and he has been linked with a move for Millwall’s towering defender Jake Cooper.
“Every squad needs competition and depth in every position,” added Goldson. “Touch wood, there are limited injuries over the season but if there are injuries or suspensions, then you need players that can step in and go and win games of football for this club.
“Working with Nikola has been good so far. He’s aggressive, wants to defend and doesn’t like conceding goals. He’s very similar to myself.”
Tonight is Rangers’ final work-out ahead of their first competitive fixture under Gerrard when they face Macedonian side Shkupi in the first leg of their Europa League first qualifying round tie at Ibrox next Thursday.
“We want to beat Bury and build confidence for next week,” said Goldson. “We will be ready for it and go into it excited about the challenge.”