Steven Gerrard has committed himself to a challenge he described as “getting Rangers’ house in order” after agreeing a four-year contract as the new manager of the Ibrox club.
Around 7,000 supporters gathered at the stadium yesterday afternoon to welcome the former Liverpool and England captain into his first senior managerial job.
Gerrard will formally take up the role on 1 June, two days after he celebrates his 38th birthday, and will be assisted by his ex-Liverpool team-mate and former Scotland captain Gary McAllister.
The high-profile nature of the appointment has sparked fresh enthusiasm among Rangers fans who have endured another disappointing season as Celtic maintain their ruthless dominance of Scottish football under Brendan Rodgers, who was one of Gerrard’s managers at Anfield.
Gerrard will ultimately be judged on whether he can swing the balance of Old Firm power in Rangers’ favour but he insists Celtic and Rodgers are not uppermost in his thoughts.
“To be honest, where I sit right now, it’s not the right time and place for me to talk about Celtic,” said Gerrard.
“There will be plenty of time for that in the future when we move forward and we start the challenge from the new season
“My priority is Rangers and this house. I need to get this house in order, I need to produce a team and squad that’s capable of winning football matches. I want the supporters to skip into this place to watch the team and be proud of them, to see we can take the team and club forward and make it competitive.
“That’s my priority, not what Celtic have been doing and not what other people have been doing in the league. I have to focus on every challenge that’s coming at us but for us to win those challenges and come out on top of them, we need to sort Rangers out first.”
Gerrard’s 17-year playing career at Liverpool came to an end under Rodgers’ management when he left the club to join LA Galaxy.
“I’m not sure how the relationship between us will change now,” said Gerrard. “Right now as I sit here everything is fine. I really enjoyed my time as a player under Brendan, I have nothing but respect for the man and the coach.
“The way I see it, it’s a very exciting challenge for myself to go up against not just Brendan but the other top managers in this league and the managers around Europe as well. That’s where I am now and that’s what I’ve got to face, that competition from other managers around the world, not just the closest ones.
“The size of this club, the history of the club, the values that this club has – I feel I’m a good fit. I feel like me and this club can have a special connection and have some good times together. I’m looking forward to the fun we can have together.”
Referring to his reception from the crowd who turned up for his unveiling, he added: “I thought it was going to be a secret! The supporters are the main thing here, not just one of the main things. My relationship with those supporters, if I can get them with me, if I can create a team they are proud of, that they look forward to coming here to watch – then we’ll be in a good place.”