Steven Gerrard has outlined his intention to repair what he regards as a “disjointed” Rangers squad by recruiting players prepared to “defend the badge with their life”.
The Ibrox club’s new manager will get his first pre-season preparations underway on Friday at the renamed Hummel Training Centre, a move now confirmed as an extension of their kit deal with the Danish sportswear company.
Gerrard will then take his players to Spain on Sunday for a ten-day training camp where he hopes to forge a new spirit of unity and purpose at a club bedevilled by turbulence both on and off the pitch in recent years.
“Looking in from afar last year it looked a bit disjointed and we can’t have that here at a club this size,” said the former Liverpool and England captain. “Everyone has to be singing off the same hymn sheet and we start building that from the first day in Spain. The key to Spain is fitness and keeping everyone healthy and that we give them the right level of training, the right volume and push the fitness levels. But more importantly it is to live together and get the players used to the staff and the staff used to the players and we start this team bond and this camaraderie and we get the squad into a good place.”
Speaking to Rangers TV, Gerrard expressed his satisfaction with the club’s close season signings so far. Six deals have been struck for goalkeeper Allan McGregor, central defenders Nikola Katic and Connor Goldson, midfielders Scott Arfield and Ovie Ejaria and winger Jamie Murphy. Gerrard is especially enthused by the capture of Goldson from Brighton and appeared to drop a hint the 25-year-old could be named Rangers captain.
Doubts remain over the future of current skipper Lee Wallace who is due to report for training today after the lifting of his club suspension for an alleged post-match bust-up after last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Celtic.
“In terms of Connor, he’s ready to go,” said Gerrard. “He’s had a frustrating couple of years in terms of being a back-up player at Brighton and he doesn’t see himself as a back-up player and neither do I. I see him as a leader, a starter and someone who can come in and cajole the defence and take ownership of that and he’s just glad that it’s finally over the line and he’s a Rangers player, he’s as hungry as anyone to get going. That was an area where we needed players but players who fit the profile, who are hungry, who want to come in and defend this badge with their life.
“That was the message when we spoke to these players, it’s not about just coming to Rangers and being a Rangers player – it’s about coming and being a Rangers player and then defending the shirt with their life and both Katic and Goldson are right up for that challenge which excites me.
“They are different in terms of age and experience. Nikola is very inexperienced in terms of numbers of games but in terms of potential and profile he ticked every box and he’s really looking forward to coming out to Spain and getting going and getting his fitness.
“The centre-back area was one we had to move quickly on, try and get a head start on just because of the changes and the dynamics of it, but we’re looking to strengthen every area. Every area we feel like we can improve, we’ll pounce and we’ll do it. We’ve already got a decent start in terms of improving the goalkeeper, we’ve added Allan McGregor to that, he’s an ex-legend and knows the club inside out and is a positive signing.
“Scott Arfield was a no-brainer, on a free contract and Scott will help in a lot of ways both on and off the pitch he’s a fantastic player.”