Brendan Rodgers has warned Steven Gerrard to ensure he chooses the “right club” when he decides to move into football management for the first time.
The former Liverpool and England captain is the leading candidate to take charge of Rangers this summer after the Ibrox club opened talks with his representatives earlier this week.
Celtic manager Rodgers, who developed a close relationship with Gerrard during his three and a half years as Anfield boss, expressed his surprise at the 37-year-old being so strongly linked with the Rangers job.
Gerrard, currently the under-18s coach at Liverpool’s academy, has previously turned down an offer to manage MK Dons.
Rodgers, whose own managerial career began in the second tier of English football at Watford, questioned whether the time is right for Gerrard to take the plunge into such a high-profile job.
“I know Steven very well, I know he wants to manage at some point,” said Rodgers. “For all managers, when it’s your first time it’s not necessarily about ‘a’ club, it’s about the right club. That’s important when you’re managing first of all. When I took my first job, I had been coaching for 15 years and I had worked with kids at six years of age right through to the very best players in world football at the time at Chelsea. So I had covered many aspects of football, but also all the other things that coaching and development entails. I felt then that I was ready to manage and it was just a case of finding the right club. I had a number of possibilities but Watford came along and it was right. Why? Because they have a history of giving young managers an opportunity, right the way back to Graham Taylor. I was following in the footsteps of Aidy Boothroyd, who had been taken on in his mid-30s and done a great job in getting them promoted.
“I knew that the club was pretty stable, the supporters were great, they gave you an opportunity, they recognised that as a young manager you needed support. It was the right thing for me to do. It wasn’t any club for me to manage, it was the right club. That was what was going to be important for me in the first steps of management because all the statistics show you that lots of managers get their first job and there is a high percentage, it seems to go up every year, that maybe don’t get another chance. It’s all about your own feeling and getting to the right club.
“It certainly helped me going to Liverpool that I already had 17, 18 years’ experience as a coach and as a manager and then arriving to here at Celtic with 20-odd years’ experience. But it’s all about yourself, really, if you feel ready to do it, whether it’s Graeme Murty, Stevie or anyone else.
“It’s not easy, the expectations at the big clubs are huge.
“Stevie and I were close at Liverpool. I had a good relationship with him, similar to what I have here with Scott Brown. The synergy between the manager and the captain is very important. But I haven’t spoken to Stevie for a little while so it is all speculation. I am sure that the guys on the Rangers board know what they are doing and they’ll go from there.”
Neil Lennon, meanwhile, believes Gerrard only needs to talk to John Barnes to understand what a “huge risk” coming to Glasgow would be.
The Hibs boss took over at Celtic at the age of 38 after two years of coaching experience at the club, before leading them to three league titles. But Barnes endured misery in his first management job at Celtic, his only season ending prematurely in 2000 following Scottish Cup defeat by Inverness.
“Knowing Steve as I do, he’s a brilliant guy,” the Hibs head coach said. “He’s one of my heroes actually over the past 20 years, a great role model and inspirational figure. But playing is totally different from coaching and managing.
“I’m sure he will do a bit of due diligence on it and he has plenty of people he can turn to for advice. John Barnes would be a good example. He went in cold and found it very difficult.
“It can be a harsh environment. It’s not as easy as people think it is. That’s the perception coming from down south.
“We have seen a lot of good players and managers come and go very quickly because they have found it very difficult to adapt to the pressures and expectations of what Glasgow can bring.”