The former Celtic striker believes it is too simplistic to claim that, across his three-and-a-half years in Glasgow, Gerrard snared the only honour that really mattered from the nine he contested. It is an assessment widely promoted because the Rangers manager’s solitary success came in the form of the “outstanding” title win last season that prevented Hartson’s old club claiming a record 10th title.
However, the Welshman – blindsided by a switch he didn’t think for a minute the 41-year-old would make – is mindful that Celtic became the first club in world football to capture a quadruple treble composed solely of national competitions on Gerrard’s Rangers watch. And he considers that Neil Lennon’s side so completely came apart as the Ibrox men romped to a first championship in a decade by an astonishing 25-point margin that their failure to land a clean sweep of the domestic honours in the Covid-19 impacted campaign suggests they fell short of what ought to have been expected.
‘When people say he [Gerrard] has done a great job… I think he’s done a good job… one trophy out of nine possible,” said Hartson. “He won the biggest title possibly that Rangers needed to win over the last 10 to 15 years to stop Celtic. I just thought he would have shown a bit of loyalty to Rangers, with them having given him that chance [to move into management]. But he might see it as a good opportunity to go now. He might think he’s done a wonderful job.
“People keep saying he was brought in to do a specific job [stop 10], but I disagree with that. He was brought in to win trophies. The key thing was obviously stopping 10-in-a-row and that’s what he will say to the fans if he gets questioned: ‘why have you left us now – a third of the way into the season?’. You have people down south saying he’s won the last two titles, they don’t have a clue or do their homework on Scottish football. They are saying that Aston Villa is a bigger club than Rangers. Rangers would fit Aston Villa in their back pocket. No disrespect. Aston Villa have won a European Cup, but Rangers and Celtic are massive clubs.
"Steven has done a good job, he built and built and won the league. They conceded 13 goals and that’s great defensive play. But last season, Rangers should have won the treble. The way they lost to St Johnstone at home not handling the goalkeeper coming up for a corner at a set piece and the same at St Mirren when they went out of two cups very tamely. And, remember, Celtic were already out of those cups when both those games took place. A great job is winning a treble. He did a good job winning the title, uniting the Rangers fans again the same as Ange Postecoglou is doing at Celtic this season. I genuinely felt he would have stayed at Rangers.”