Stephen Halliday: Enhanced numbers still don’t add up for Steven Gerrard and Rangers
No-one could credibly oppose the view that the Ibrox club are in a much better place since Gerrard’s appointment as manager in the summer of 2018.
Having inherited a fractured squad which had stumbled its way to a third place Premiership finish that year, Gerrard raised standards both on the pitch and on the training ground during his first campaign at the helm.
The challenge this season was to translate that progress into silverware with, as always, the league title the priority. That is now the unlikeliest of prospects after the midweek results which saw Celtic stretch themselves 10 points clear at the top of the table, prompting the intense scrutiny Gerrard finds himself under.
That is despite Rangers being 10 points better off than they were at the same stage of the Premiership last season, having scored more goals and conceded fewer. They also have a better record after the first 25 league games than Rangers did under Walter Smith in any of their last three title-winning seasons from 2009 to 2011.
The problem for Gerrard is that Celtic have also raised their game significantly under Neil Lennon this season. For the Old Firm, second best remains failure regardless of the statistics.