Twenty eight days after being appointed new Rangers manager, Steven Gerrard finally gets his feet under his desk at Auchenhowie ready to try and transform the club.
It was an appointment which simultaneously enlivened the club’s support, got Scottish football’s hands rubbing and piqued interest of the country’s game in England and further afield.
Scotland has a genuine A-list star next season. Someone who was at the top of the club game for more than a decade. Gerrard achieved much more than Joey Barton’s two Championship titles, and is, without a doubt, a bigger name in football than Brendan Rodgers.
A four-year deal suggests the Rangers board see Gerrard as the man to have the transformative effect the club requires. Someone to instil a long-term plan and identity. But he has more pressing issues and short-term decisions to make.
Here is what Gerrard’s to do list on his first day in the job could look like:
Decide which players are crucial
The Liverpool legend attended a couple of Rangers games last season, and it is very likely games from the last campaign have been a popular feature in the Gerrard household of late.
He will already have built up a general idea of the players he wants to work with in the medium-to-long-term, while deciding on those who are not to his liking.
What he could do with is putting every player on a board, like a detective putting all the clues in a case together. He may see the squad rebuilding as a complex mystery. With the league season not starting until August, everything doesn’t need to be set in stone on Friday.
However, separating the likes of Ross McCrorie and Daniel Candeias from Lee Hodson and Fabio Cardoso will make squad building going forward easier, while leaving space for those players he is undecided on to change his mind.
Gerrard will likely get fed up quickly with comparisons to his former Liverpool manager Rodgers, but he should take inspiration from the way the Celtic manager enhanced so many players who had been written off.
Perfect pre-season plans
American independence day will live long in the memory at Ibrox. Not because of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, or the blockbuster movie starring Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith, but for a different kind of progress.
The fourth of July will remain infamous in the club’s history for being the day the club were humiliated by Luxembourg’s Progres Niederkorn.
Clearly a much better side, Rangers were disjointed as they won the first-leg before they delivered a rotten performance in the return match.
Gerrard needs to make sure that his charges are whipped into shape by 12 July to avoid such a disastrous start to the season, and his managerial career, when Rangers kick off their European campaign.
The team are off to Spain for ten days later this month and the former England international needs to make sure he is 100 per cent confident with his pre-season schedule, what lies in store for the players and the pre-season fixtures.
A good run in the qualifiers could really give the team momentum going into the start of the league campaign.
Consistent, clear and positive message
You could not fault Pedro Caixinha for positivity. It was something which he had in abundance. He was charismatic and tried to be transparent, too much so in his early weeks and months.
However, when trying to convey his ethos or a general message he was far from clear. There was talk about Las Vegas, vampires and dogs barking at caravans.
Rangers fans want a manager who will stand up for the club, talk it up, put up with little nonsense in front of the cameras, while talking positively about where the club is heading.
Grand statements aren’t required. Simple things like his “let’s go” quote on his unveiling, which has been turned into a marketing phrase, is welcomed.
Gerrard should make time in his schedule to get his coaching team around the table, as well as the club’s somewhat infamous media team, and stress the importance of a coherent message, one which they are all on board with.
Something simple, straightforward which is not going to lead to distraction or ridicule.
Lay down the law
While the players will still be on their pre-season break, it would make sense to put together a list of rules or guidelines for players and staff to follow.
Gerrard should have little problem garnering respect and being seen as the boss in the Ibrox dressing room, such is his standing in the game.
Rangers have not had a true leading figure in the management position since Walter Smith. Someone who evokes a general sense of fear, someone players don’t want to let down.
The last three managers have been undermined by off-field conflict, of self-entitled powerful players having ideas well above their station.
There has been far too much dressing room nonsense, disharmony, as well as petulance from players on the field, for Rangers to realistically make a big step forward in their development.
Gerrard will want to let players know where they stand from the off.
The captain is often an overstated role in Britain but Gerrard needs to pinpoint a player who will be him out on the field. The issue, however, is whether that player is currently at the club.
When the going was getting tough at Hampden Park in the Scottish Cup semi-final or at Celtic Park when Celtic were on course to win the league Rangers needed someone to stand up and be counted. No one stood up and stepped forward.
A club the size of Rangers, and all the demands that comes with playing for the side, players need to be strong mentality. These ‘leaders’ are important. Those with steel, an edge even. Those that fans can look to and trust to drag the team forward, whether through words or, more importantly, actions.
There are few candidates currently at the club but Gerrard may think differently and see someone like Allan McGregor or potentially James Tavernier as that person.
Get staff on board
This is something Brendan Rodgers did so well, as many shrewd managers do. Go into a new workplace and get immediate buy-in from the staff.
Rodgers’ personality saw him gain the backing of most backroom staff at Celtic Park, bringing the club together as one. It promotes a healthy work environment as everyone feels involved.
If everyone feels involved, everyone will contribute and it could help towards those marginal gains and gives the team a better chance of moving forward together towards a more robust club.
It will also help with an issue which has plagued the club in recent seasons, leaks.
Taking time out to meet and chat with staff at all levels would be a beneficial use of time.