As an indicator of the fairly rapid strides Rangers have taken under Steven Gerrard so far, results and performances on the pitch speak for themselves.
But according to the manager’s right-hand man, Gary McAllister, the manner in which the set-up behind the scenes has been shaken up since the summer has been pivotal to the progress which is currently offering the club’s support so much encouragement.
For so long dysfunctional and disjointed in the aftermath of their financial collapse in 2012, McAllister says Gerrard has radically restored standards at Rangers to create an environment in which his players can flourish and improve.
It’s also a place where they are happy to spend much more of their time. Given a day off by Gerrard on Monday following their 5-1 league win over St Johnstone on Sunday, the majority of the first-team squad opted to turn up at the Hummel Training Centre regardless.
“It says a lot about the players’ determination to succeed that they are willing to sacrifice days off but also to all the staff who are providing the right sort of information for players who just want to be sponges and get better,” said McAllister. “What people outside don’t see is the changes – a lot of them – the manager has made at the training ground. The first-team dressing room has been revamped and the canteen area has been raised loads of levels.
“You want to create an environment where players want to come, even on their day off. They come here and get probably the nicest food in Glasgow and that’s not being disrespectful to the restaurants in the city!
“They can come and have a coffee and a chat and there’s always people here. There’s physios, masseurs and it’s about creating that environment where they want to spend time here rather than come in early, train and then go home.
“We all want to get better at every level at this club. I’ve been at clubs where on a day off people have no intentions of going near the place until they’re asked to go back in.
“So when you’ve got a group of players showing that sort of dedication and willingness to get better, it’s got to be good.
“The boss is massively encouraged by what is happening. The players have had to embrace a lot of change. A lot of tactical change as well. New players have come in, a lot of new players.
“This has meant drifting between hotels, finding a house, getting to know the area, there’s a lot been happening for a lot of players. That’s where we tip our hats to the players. There are demands asked of them everyday. There was a lot of pressure put on them straight away and they have dealt with it.
“The fitness levels and demands have jumped up, there wasn’t a word of complaint either, so all credit goes to them.”
McAllister is not at all surprised by the manner in which Gerrard has taken to his first job in front line management.
“People doubted Steven going from taking charge of the reserves and Under-18s at Liverpool to being manager of this big club,” he added. “But I played alongside him and watched him when I left Liverpool. He’s a natural leader. Maybe not vocally, but as far as following someone or looking at someone to set an example, there is nobody better.
“He’s managed games from on the pitch for a long time at the highest level and that’s how he’s been able to go into the job and cope. The biggest thing a manager needs is respect and he’s got that in abundance.”
Gerrard has drafted several teenagers into his squad for tonight’s Betfred Cup quarter-final against Ayr United at Ibrox, including midfield trio Stephen Kelly, Cammy Palmer and Jack Thomson. Wes Foderingham will play in goal, while Lee Wallace, Jordan Rossiter and Umar Sadiq are all in contention to face the Championship side.
“As much as the starting XI will be strong, there might be an opportunity for these lads to get some minutes,” said McAllister. “These young lads have really impressed for the reserves and in training. The boss is a product of academy football where he came right through and played for his dream club and we want to try to create that here.”