The regard that Steven Gerrard has for Allan McGregor shone through yesterday as the Rangers manager unwittingly presented himself as the antithesis of Donald Trump.
The media-hating president of the United States seems to shriek “fake news” whenever a microphone, camera or dictaphone simply appears in front of him. Those in that realm are the dumbest of interrogators while he would claim it’s down to him that the earth continues to spin.
In contrast, despite the endless conferences with journalists and thousands of posers put to him across a breathless opening period in his first frontline management post, the Rangers manager said yesterday the daftest enquiry ever put to him hasn’t involved anyone in the fourth estate, as he went out of his way to avoid any backslapping for what is being perceived as one of the transfer masterstrokes in his tenure.
McGregor is being hailed as a thunderous success of this new Rangers era following displays in the Europa League that have been central to the outstanding unbeaten start to the season enjoyed by Gerrard’s reconstructed and resurgent side.
On Thursday night, as a third straight clean sheet was recorded on the road, the 36-year-old keeper surpassed himself by saving a penalty in added time shortly after a superb block that ensured the Ibrox men kept out Maribor to capitalise on their 3-1 first-leg efforts to move within 180 minute of a place in the competition’s group stage.
“I can’t take any credit for the signing of Allan McGregor, it was 99 per cent down the line in terms of the recruitment that went before me,” said Gerrard. “All I was asked was ‘do you want to tick the box?’ and it was probably one of the stupidest questions I have ever been asked, to be honest.
“It was a yes straight away and one of those signings that was a no-brainer. Experience, good for the dressing room, top professional, top goalkeeper. Ticks every box. He is coming back to a place that he helped build over the years so, for me, it was one of the easiest decisions I have ever had to make.”
As easy, indeed, as dismissing and deriding the £3.45m bid for Alfredo Morelos from Bordeaux, who yesterday parted company with their manager Gus Poyet.
“I get that other teams need to try to strengthen as well,” said Gerrard. “They sold a centre-forward. But for me as a player it wouldn’t fill me with confidence if a manager has just walked out the door this morning. So I don’t know where it is at. The amount they tried to bid for one of my top players I think, first and foremost, is disrespectful to Alfredo because he is worth a helluva lot more than that, and I think it is disrespectful to Rangers because it is miles and miles and miles away from what we would let that player go for.
“If we are going to compete we need to keep our best players. We are not going to sit here and say ‘our players are not worth this or that’ because every player on the planet is worth an amount. But if we sell a good player then we’ll have to go into the transfer market and pay more than these bids to replace him. So it doesn’t make sense to me to accept a bid at that level.
“To accept bid like that for Alfredo, I’m probably going to have to spend treble that amount for a replacement .”
Rangers visit Kilmarnock tomorrow for a Betfred Cup tie that will bring former Liverpool captain Gerrard up against a favourite former coach in Steve Clarke, who was assistant to Kenny Dalglish at Anfield between 2011 and 2012.
“I loved working under Clarkey as a player, his sessions were always fresh and enjoyable,” said Gerrard. “He was someone I got on very, very well with. I’ve bumped into him a couple of times since we went separate ways at Liverpool. He’s someone I have immense respect for.”