‘There is something missing. And we all know what that is’ – Steven Gerrard on Rangers quest for silverware

Steven Gerrard will take charge of his 100th Rangers match when the Ibrox side take on Hearts on Sunday. Picture: Gary Hutchison / SNS
Steven Gerrard will take charge of his 100th Rangers match when the Ibrox side take on Hearts on Sunday. Picture: Gary Hutchison / SNS
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There will be a milestone for Steven Gerrard, the Rangers manager, at Tynecastle tomorrow afternoon as he celebrates a century of games in the Ibrox dug-out.

Ultimately, though, it is not the 100 that matters but just the one.

Rangers have inescapably come on leaps and bounds under the tutelage of Gerrard over the last 20 months; indeed, the 39-year-old has overseen a league campaign so far this term that boasts one of the best returns in the last 50 years for the Ibrox side.

But while there has been progress and improvement, everything around Gerrard and Rangers percolates to delivering silverware.

“I am as ambitious and hungry as I was when I walked in the door,” said Gerrard. “But there is something missing. And we all know what that is. We will do everything we can to make sure that changes.

“I think at a lot of football clubs the stats would be really, really good and strong. But you know and I know what you get judged on at this football club. I have never, ever shied away from that. That is the responsibility and pressure I live with it every day, but it is the pressure and responsibility I wanted and that I enjoy.

“We will continue to fight for it. We were really close in a cup final that didn’t go our way. So we can smell it, feel we are getting close to it, but we need to keep working hard and performing at this level and consistency.”

Gerrard has Gary McAllister as a one-man round-the-clock support network – “I wanted him to be a 24-hour soundboard” – but when the pressure intensifies, the Rangers manager is in the enviable position of being able to run one or two things past Jurgen Klopp, inset.

Well on his way to delivering Liverpool’s first title win since 1990, the German can appreciate the complexities involved in managing the pressures of a club rich in history and big on expectation. It was Klopp’s counsel Gerrard sought when the Ibrox job was initially offered to him, with the Liverpudlian appreciative now of the advice offered from the Anfield manager.

“One of my most important sounding boards has been Jurgen Klopp,” acknowledged Gerrard. “Everyone knows that because I have been open about it, not so much in what is said between us but that we speak. One of the things he said to me was to be ready because it is not a 9-5 or a 6-8, it is round the clock, 24-hour gig that you commit to. I know exactly what he means now, trust me.

“I knew that you had to go round the clock and put the hours in and commit and make the sacrifices, but this has basically dominated my life from the day that I said I am up for it.

“As a player I was always up for talking to people to bounce things off of and get advice from. I am always up for constructive criticism and people to point out if I have done something right. I am not the type who thinks it is my way or the highway.”

So far, Gerrard has established Rangers as credible and authentic challengers to Celtic’s domestic monopoly but until there is tangible evidence in the form of silverware to show for that, then the distance to where they want to go will be seen as significant as the distance they have travelled.

In the time that Gerrard has been in charge at Rangers, Celtic have won every domestic trophy on offer. The Celtic Park win at the end of December offered the first serious indication of a shift in mentality within the Ibrox dressing room, although Gerrard was reluctant to accept that the psychology of the team is quite where it needs to be.

“I don’t think we have changed that or completed that yet, I think that’s a work in progress,” he said. “It’s better. We have a better mentality about us, a better belief, we have more winners in the dressing room. But we haven’t completed anything yet.

“I think we are a lot more organised, the house is a lot more settled and there is a lot more togetherness and connection from all the departments. I think there is more belief and confidence in the dressing room. That was the challenge.

“From the outside, it looked as if there was disconnect in areas from the dressing room to the supporters. These were different challenges that we needed to face when we came in.

“That is a lot better but I am not going to sit here and say everything is perfect and I am going to rest now. We need to keep driving it and that is in all areas.”