With the former Liverpool and England midfielder installed as the favourite to take the reins at Ibrox, Patrick McPartlin looks at whether Steven Gerrard is the right man for Rangers
Sometimes, employing relatively inexperienced managers can work, such as Alan Stubbs at Hibernian, or Neil Lennon at Celtic.
At other times, most notably Ian Cathro’s brief tenure at Hearts, or Lee McCulloch’s spell in charge of Kilmarnock, it can backfire quite dramatically.
I suspect that Ross County fans would be among the first to point out that even appointing established managers with decent track records isn’t without its pitfalls.
Steven Gerrard, whom some bookmakers have installed as the frontrunner to succeed Graeme Murty as Rangers manager, falls very much into the former category.
Currently in charge of Liverpool’s Under-18 side, one would have to imagine Gerrard has an eye on a management gig in the not-too-distant future, even if he was enthusiastic about returning to Anfield as a coach to “complete the circle” at the club he served for 26 years.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian in December last year, Gerrard was candid about his career path, saying: “In six months or a year or two years’ time there might be an opportunity where I think I’m much better prepared than I was five months ago. The MK Dons job, for example, which came up just after I had finished playing, was like a smack in the face. There was no way I was ready to lead a club or a team.
“Am I closer to that now? Of course, but I am happy where I am right now.”
That six month period will be up in June during which, one would have to imagine, Rangers will be sizing up potential successors to Murty - if the club decides to dispense with his services.
The former Anfield captain has worked with Liverpool’s academy since February 2017, coaching the stars of tomorrow while learning himself from Jurgen Klopp, Alex Inglethorpe and the other coaches at the club’s Kirkby base.
In his own words, leading the club’s Under-18s has helped Gerrard get a taste of football management “away from the cameras”.
The ex-England international spends six days out of every seven working at the Liverpool academy, leading by example with his work ethic. Matches are dissected down to the last tackle. Mental notes are made to praise certain players, or work more closely with others. Gerrard also takes a keen interest in the education and welfare side of the job. He has built up a rapport with his players, recognising the need to support them and care for them.
He focuses on winning, and drilling that mentality into his squad.
It’s a far cry from an incandescent Alex Ferguson kicking a football boot at David Beckham, or an apoplectic John Hughes slating the Raith Rovers players in an interview with the club’s TV channel.
It’s also a million miles away from couplets about dogs and caravans, or standing in a hedge ranting at supporters, while Gerrard doesn’t seem like the kind of person to perform a headstand on the touchline, either.
We are regularly treated to former Ibrox players and managers insisting that “good Rangers men” are needed in the boardroom, in the dugout, and on the pitch.
Old pros hark back to the days of Rangers taking on all comers in Europe, and nine-in-a-row.
Gerrard isn’t the sort to thrive on memories, however. He doesn’t show any footage of himself to his young charges.
There are no highlight videos of “Stevie G” tearing it up for England or Liverpool; with Gerrard, his focus is on “what’s happening tomorrow, not yesterday”.
Perhaps that’s what Rangers need. After masterminding a 4-1 win for his youngsters over their Gers counterparts in November last year, Gerrard was effusive in his praise for the club.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for this football club and its history and traditions. Ibrox... is an iconic stadium,” he told the club’s YouTube channel.
“I had to take the opportunity to bring my team up to experience playing in that stadium, just being in the surroundings, in the dressing room - it’s a wonderful place.”
That’s one box ticked.
If Gerrard were to succeed Murty at Ibrox, he would be bringing nearly two decades of Premier League experience to Edmiston Drive.
Or, to look at it another way, two decades worth of coaching pointers from the likes of Klopp, Rafa Benitez - “the best tactician I worked with throughout my playing career” - and even Brendan Rodgers.
Light Blues fans might well blanch at the thought, but if Rangers aren’t able to land someone of a similar calibre to the Celtic manager, why not opt for someone who can at least pass on his tips and tricks?
Gerrard’s experience of European competition, both as a player and a coach, would be invaluable.
The number of contacts he has built up in England, further afield in Europe or even in the USA where he saw out his playing career with LA Galaxy, would be a boon.
This is a man who is keen to progress, improve and ultimately test himself at a higher level. He is aiming for the top and has the pedigree to succeed.
He’s young, he’s ambitious, he’s thoughtful and while he is raw in terms of management, there is scope to install a more experienced coach as his right hand man.
It would be a risky move, however, and perhaps that’s the biggest stumbling block - are Rangers in need of a safe pair of hands like a Neil Warnock, or a Graham Potter, or should they pick a young aspirational manager keen to make a name for himself?
Ibrox chairman Dave King’s rather visible presence at Anfield last night, sitting just yards away from former Reds managers Kenny Dalglish and Gerard Houllier, further fuelled the rumours that Gerrard could be on the club’s radar.
If Rangers are serious about challenging Celtic’s cakewalk, they could do worse than speak to Gerrard - and he wouldn’t be the first Liverpool midfield legend to take the reins at Rangers, with a view to clawing back Celtic’s dominance in Scottish football after several disappointing years in Govan.