John Hartson: Rangers would be good job for Steven Gerrard
Ibrox has become a managerial graveyard since Dave King’s concert party assumed control of the club in 2015. Since then Kenny McDowall, Stuart McCall, Mark Warburton, Pedro Caixinha and now (in slow motion) Graeme Murty have either been sacked or resigned.
On top of that, as the recent 4-0 and 5-0 drubbings from Celtic have confirmed, Rangers are miles behind the champions in footballing and financial terms. Rangers continue to lose money each year and, should Celtic qualify for the Champions League for a third successive season and add another £30m to their coffers, their domestic hegemony will be guaranteed for the foreseeable future.
In spite of that, chairman Dave King’s statement – issued prior to their Scottish Cup semi-final defeat – claimed that their new manager must be capable of “ensuring immediate success”.
Rangers have now gone seven years without major silverware but Gerrard will be expected to rectify that at the first attempt. Even so, former Celtic striker John Hartson believes that it’s a win-win situation for the Liverpool Under-18s coach.
“Steven has a big decision to make,” he said. “I know him, I played in his golf event for a couple of days over in Portugal a few months ago. If he wants to go and have a shot at it I don’t think he’s under any pressure because he can’t make Rangers any worse.”
Hartson concedes, though, that it would be wise of King and Co to rein in their expectations because it is unlikely that Gerrard will deliver instant solutions to a myriad of problems.
“Steven can’t do that; Pep Guardiola couldn’t do that,” he said.
“How could you work with that group of players? They got their best player, Declan John, on loan from the Championship. Then they bought him from Cardiff; that’s what they’re dealing with.
“So, does Steven want to sit at Liverpool and keep working at the academy and hope one day, when Jurgen Klopp eventually leaves, that he gets a shot at the first team because he’d love to be the Liverpool manager? Or does he take the Rangers job?
“I don’t think if he took it he would have a lot to lose. At the minute, Rangers can’t string two passes together. They’re woeful. He can’t make them any worse. Plus, there will always be a place for him back at Liverpool. A lot of people are saying he shouldn’t take it because the club’s in turmoil – there’s no money or players there. Basically, that he’s on a hiding to nothing.
“I don’t think that’s the case. If he wants it, it’s a good job right now because they can only go one way and that’s up.
“The two big things he needs to tell Rangers is, ‘I need some money, I want to bring in some players to help the team.’
“Rangers need that; they need a lift in the dressing room. Then it’s about who he can get rid of. There are plenty there brought in by Pedro Caixinha. They haven’t stood up, they haven’t been good enough. They’ve let the club down, they’ve let the fans down, they’ve let themselves down.”
Hartson does not believe that the capitulation at Celtic Park on Sunday which helped their hosts claim a seventh successive title will have deterred Gerrard in the slightest.
“He would have known what was needed before Sunday’s game,” he said. “He would have seen the semi-final and also how many games Rangers have lost at home.
“Steven’s not stupid. He is a young, intelligent, up-and-coming, inspiring coach. He will do his homework and speak to people. I don’t think he had to watch Sunday’s game to make his mind up.
“He’ll take a bit of time, as you’d expect. But, as I said, I really don’t think it’s too much of gamble for him. If he fails, then so what? The last three or four have failed anyway.
“Rangers is a big club, it’s a great club, it has got magnificent fans. He will certainly give them a lift and give the whole place a lift. I don’t think he’s got an awful lot to lose really.”