Rangers boss Steven Gerrard on his first visit to Tannadice: "The name Dundee United means a lot, from afar I watched Dundee derbies and I know how close the stadiums are"

Now 40-years-old, Steven Gerrard is slightly too young to recall when famous European nights were a regular occurrence at Tannadice, the stadium he visits for the first time today.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard signs a Liverpool shirt upon arriving at Dens Park for a game against Dundee in December 2018

The Rangers manager certainly won’t remember a crooked referee and talented AS Roma side conspiring to rob Jim McLean’s team of a European Cup final appearance against his beloved Liverpool in 1984, although being a self-confessed “football man”, as comfortable on the sidelines at Cowdenbeath as he is in the great European arenas, he’ll be aware of the details.

He has also been alerted to the more recent difficulties in relations between Dundee United and Rangers, dating back to the Ibrox club's financial meltdown and subsequent lower league odyssey.

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Gerrard already knew the history that abounds on both sides of a street he has visited once before, when Rangers were held 1-1 by a ten-man Dundee team ultimately bound for relegation in Gerrard’s first season in Scotland.

Things have improved for him and his team since they were prone to such away day malfunctions. On 44 points already after 16 league games, the fact they only had 30 points when they arrived at Dens Park at the same time of year (and having played just one game fewer) says it all about the on-going development of Gerrard’s Rangers project. He will, as ever, give United maximum respect.

Micky Mellon is someone he is aware of from their days on Merseyside, when the United manager was in charge of Tranmere Rovers. Gerrard is already well-versed in the Tannadice club’s European pedigree.

“The name Dundee United means a lot,” said Gerrard. “From afar I watched Dundee derbies and I know how close the stadiums are. I've also been brought up to speed on the history, Rangers' relationship with Dundee United and what the game means.

“There's a rivalry there so it's a game we're looking forward to.

“They've got a really shrewd manager there in Micky and they deserved to come up. It will be a difficult game for us because our 4-0 scoreline (in September) at Ibrox flattered us a little bit. United were ambitious, they came out to play and tried to press us. They also fought to the final whistle.

“I expect the same and we'll need to be right at it. We'll need to be in the same place as we've been for the previous 25 games if we want three points.”

While the greater strength in depth, highlighted by a much-changed side’s commanding win over Lech Poznan, has been a key factor in Rangers’ success this season, one perhaps under-appreciated factor is the improvement in discipline.

They have had no red cards and are bottom of the yellow card table, with just 12 bookings. It is a big change from 18 months ago when their ambitions were compromised by an inability to keep 11 players on the pitch, with Alfredo Morelos more often than not the guilty party.

“We're representing a club with tradition,” said Gerrard. “Rangers are a classy club that is all about standards from top to bottom. As a group, we were responsible for not having the right discipline. It's something that we've worked ever so hard to improve. You have to give individual players real credit because they've shown signs of development and learning.”

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