If it is possible to have a gentle introduction to life as Rangers manager in front of over 40,000 fans gripped by fevered anticipation of your tenure, that was the experience enjoyed by Steven Gerrard at Ibrox last night.
His only public friendly in charge before the serious business of Europa League football next week proved to be a mismatch as English League Two outfit Bury were swept aside.
Nonetheless, there was plenty of encouragement for Gerrard in front of a remarkable attendance as he prepares for the first leg of the qualifier against Macedonian side Shkupi at Ibrox on Thursday.
The buoyant and regularly raucous atmosphere of the evening was suspended briefly before kick-off for a minute’s silence to mark the recent passing of two legendary Rangers players, Johnny Hubbard and Harold Davis.
Gerrard’s task is to mould Rangers, as quickly as possible, into a side capable of meeting the high expectations surrounding them. The first glimpse of his philosophy saw Rangers in a flexible 4-3-3 formation in front of returning goalkeeper Allan McGregor. The new central defensive partnership of Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic were flanked by full-backs James Tavernier – still the captain for now – and Jon Flanagan.
Ross McCrorie was the holding player in a midfield three which allowed Daniel Candeias and Scott Arfield licence to push up in support of the front three of Josh Windass, Alfredo Morelos and Jamie Murphy.
Goldson and Katic, both comfortable in possession, look an imposing duo although they were not tested by a Bury side who spent most of the match in their own half.
Rangers set about the game with a tempo and intensity which earned the approval of the fans, even if some of their work in the attacking third of a pitch which surprisingly cut up badly in places lacked precision and composure.
The first Ibrox goal of the Gerrard era came from a familiar source, Tavernier making a trademark burst down the right into the penalty area. He fed Morelos whose shot was smothered by the Bury defence, the ball breaking into the path of Murphy, who scored from close range.
Gerrard greeted the goal with restrained applause and cut a calm and thoughtful figure in the technical area. His team continued to dominate possession but had to wait until the 31st minute before they doubled their lead. It was a moment to savour for Katic, who was rewarded for trying his luck with a left-foot strike from around 25 yards but something of a calamity for Bury keeper Matthew Hudson, who allowed the shot to squirm through his grasp as he dived to his left. Four minutes later, Arfield also marked his first appearance for Rangers at Ibrox with a goal. It was as simple as they come for the former Falkirk and Burnley man, who slid the ball home from around eight yards out after Hudson could only parry a shot from Murphy.
The Rangers starting line-up had made their case to be retained for the start of the competitive action against Shkupi next week and Gerrard took the opportunity to give a procession of substitutes a run-out in the second half.
Teenage winger Glenn Middleton grabbed his opportunity to make a positive impression, the Scotland under-21 international doing well to set up Arfield for another tap-in to make it 4-0 in the 65th minute. While the flow of the game was broken up by so many changes from both teams, Rangers maintained enough momentum to add to their tally.
Morelos headed in the fifth from close range from a Windass cross, before 18-year-old striker Zak Rudden gleefully celebrated making it 6-0 when he tucked home another fine ball from Middleton.