Whether the supporters of the clubs like it or not, there seems to remain some sort of symbiotic relationship between Rangers and Celtic.
Since even before the Ibrox club was liquidated in 2012, whenever a manager has been found revelling in a thunderous home European win and talking up unity of purpose between team and board, he has been ensconced in a set-up in the east end of Glasgow. Equally, talk of boardroom strife or disharmony within the club’s set-up has been the preserve of the manager of the side resident in Govan.
Steven Gerrard’s contentment at all aspects of his first management role as evidenced yesterday made for a first such reversal in aeons.
On Thursday, Brendan Rodgers danced round the issue of strains with his paymasters over the summer recruitment policy that has placed their Champions League prospects on the line. Gerrard, by contrast, yesterday gave the impression all the elements of the Ibrox hierarchy would happily do a jig in perfect time.
Rangers chairman Dave King was at Ibrox as the team remade and revitalised by Gerrard earned a 3-1 win over Maribor that gives them every chance of booking their place in a winnable Europa League play-off round in the Slovenia return leg next Thursday.
As the former Liverpool captain prepared for tomorrow’s first home Premiership encounter of the season that brings old Evertonian foe Alan Stubbs and his St Mirren team into his path, the 38-year-old was happy to gush over the chain of command central to – he conceded – a surprisingly rapid upswing in the team’s fortunes. This turn of events made possible by the backing received to bring in 11 signings. A figure he hopes to push to 13 with the addition of a further forward and centre-back. That he hopes will be the product of some forthcoming lengthy chats with King, for whom he has only glowing words.
“He has been a fantastic support to me and so have the board,” he said. “Our relationship is really strong at the moment and I am enjoying it. I couldn’t have asked for anything more really.
“I think it is very important, all around the club, that we are all one, all together and that we all believe in what we are trying to do. We all stick together. It is going to be a rollercoaster. At the moment it is going well and I am experienced enough to know there will be some turbulent times as well. If we have the support and are all together from the board down everything will be fine.
“The key for me was to bring everyone together and change the mentality around the club. The staff, it doesn’t matter what department you are in, the first-team players are always the priority.
“Everyone has to do everything they can to support that; to ensure that they have got no excuses when they go on the park. We can’t have anyone around the place that is negative or is not doing their job properly to support the first team. We can’t have it. Everyone needs to pull in the same direction for the first team.
“I think it just needed a bit of connection and a few tweaks in certain areas, especially the first team. Build a bit of confidence, a bit of belief, add some winners and some leaders to the good players that were already here. Just to find that connection from everyone to pull in the direction for the first team, that is all I felt it needed.”
Gerrard’s tweaks haven’t all been evident to the outside observer. He has reconfigured parts of the club’s training centre and intends to do likewise at Ibrox – whose matchday denizens he said “should be excited” by his team’s progress.
“We would like, on a matchday, to tweak the facilities a bit so we can go straight to Ibrox and don’t have to get a coach in from a hotel and we have the facilities at Ibrox for the players to use. They can get into the ground settled and they have got their own area where they can prepare, do team meetings, get good food before and after the game. And also make it a bit better for the families. That is the plan.”