Rangers need more leaders and players with character, says Steven Gerrard

Failure can leave football clubs in a permanent state of flux. That is where Rangers appear to be at this juncture.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS

An eighth season without a major trophy beckons for the Ibrox club after their Scottish Cup elimination at home to Aberdeen in midweek.

Manager Steven Gerrard maintains that will not bring wholesale changes to a squad he revamped last summer but the need to bring in more “leaders, more players with the necessary “character” and “a couple of marquee signings” means he won’t merely be tinkering round the edges of his playing pool.

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Indeed, Gerrard hinted that he needs to recast half his first XI when it was put to him that – after the arrival of 19 players in his first year in management – he might be looking at bringing in a further “four or five” this close season.

“Is that what you think we need? Four or five?

“I won’t give you a number but the fans will be reading what you write and the message I want to put across is that I know we have to improve.

“I will make it my business 
to make this team better to compete better and to keep closing in.

“I can guarantee that will happen. If it doesn’t then I understand the situation. But sitting here right now I have confidence I can take this team forward and make it a winning team.

“I don’t think we need mass changes but I felt we did last year. Now we need more quality and leadership and players who improve the 11 which will naturally improve the 18.

“You can’t coach character. You can help people become better leaders and you can guide them a bit, but character comes from the heart and when you buy players you can’t see the size of their heart.

“You can ask questions and do the background stuff but this is a different club to most. You need to have character in abundance, you need bottle, you need to be brave,” added Gerrard.

“We have to recruit well but it won’t be mass like last summer. We will do the background checks – we do it and the recruitment does it, but the reality is that until you get the person in and he’s here for a short while you can only judge it up front.”

Harsh judgments are being made on Gerrard’s tenure in the wake of a second cup exit against Derek McInnes’ men. What is being overlooked is the remarkable Europa League run that covered 14 games from earlier summer and also took the club to within a whisker of the last 32.

Equally, the fact that Rangers are on course for a first runners-up berth of the club’s three seasons in the Premiership.

The erratic nature of his team is “the reality of where we are” says Gerrard.

“We are capable of a fantastic performance, a performance where I can walk into a press conference and wax lyrical about us across the board,” said Gerrard, whose side need a fillip when they entertain Kilmarnock this afternoon.

“That seduces you in to think ing Rangers are back to where they should be, that we’re nearly there and that we’re close. But we also have the side to us – second half against Hibs [last week], Dundee away [in December], St Johnstone at home [in February] and Aberdeen on Tuesday night – where I walk into a press conference and it’s difficult to find the answers straight away as to why I’ve seen a performance at that level. But the reality is that’s where we are.

“I’ve taken over a team and a club that’s been going through a lot of pain, that’s been quite toxic.

“It needs a lot of change on and off the pitch and we’ve done everything we can to try to improve things and sort things in one transfer window.

“ We have then tried to add to it in the second transfer window. We need more time, we need a bit more time to continue moving it forward to improve it. In some of the areas I’ve mentioned, I will address it.

“I don’t want to put a day on it, I don’t want to put a month on it. I understand we have a set of supporters – and a board – where results will dictate the speed of of it. I’m well aware of that. I’m not going to sit here and say I need four of five years, blah blah blah. I want to address it yesterday, I want to improve yesterday, and I’m doing everything I can to improve us in every single department yesterday.

“But the reality is that it was such a big job with a lot of change and a lot of improvement needed.”