Discussion in 'The Football Forum' started by King Binny, Aug 30, 2019.
Yeah, 2 games apparently.
I don't think you can criticise too much: he's had to rebuild the squad almost completely, and with limited funds you have to take a lot of chances with loans, and lesser-known signings in the £1-3m range from the backwaters of football, in the hope that some of them will be good.
They signed 10 players one summer for a TOTAL of about £4m, and he must have brought in about 30 players since he's been there. That's a lot of churn.
I think his record signing is Ryan Kent, and his goalie was a free from Hull and is about 49.
That UEFA calculator tweet is outdated.
If you look at the rankings, England are 3rd. Then if you look in the 2nd from the right column, it says "Best Team".
Not sure they're favourites to go through but what a great come back.
THis Hagi chap looking impressive?
Scottish football. Braga! I wouldn’t get carried away.
Gerrard’s Rangers seems to have the Benitez’s Liverpool problem— unable consistently to put away lower-down-the-table teams and accumulating too many draws.
could also be distractions from Europa League games.
Danny Murphy: Stevie, when did you start fancy being a manager? I wouldn't have said you did in the early days. Even as a young captain, you weren't entirely comfortable taking meetings with the lads.
Steven Gerrard: Being the skipper at 23 was out of my comfort zone. I loved leading the boys out but standing up in front of Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler, people I'd watched, was hard. My first talk to the Rangers players reminded me of that. I got through it but came out thinking: 'I need more practice.'
I'd have predicted 100 per cent Carra would be a manager. You as well, probably. For me, it changed in my thirties. I'd watch Brendan Rodgers and it looked as if he really enjoyed it. He suggested I took my coaching badges.
DM: The best thing about you being captain was you'd get the tickets!
SG: Half the main stand was your lot from Chester I reckon.
DM: Gerard Houllier was manager. Rafa [Benitez] and Jurgen [Klopp] have won the Champions League. I feel Gerard is a bit under-appreciated in laying the foundations.
SG: He revolutionised the standards at Liverpool. He changed diets, training, introduced the first fitness coach and better personnel.
DM: No mobile phones, all wear the same colour T-shirts.
SG: The ketchup went. At the time, we were "What's this?" I remember Gerard going against Robbie and Incey [Paul Ince]. If you weren't prepared to go along with what he wanted, you were out. He wanted to know exactly what I was doing off the pitch.
He took me and my mum and dad to dinner and I was left under no illusions. The message to my parents was don't let him go out and drink and pick his mates carefully. It had to be this way or I wouldn't be around Liverpool for long.
DM: He'd stop you in training for chats. He'd notice if you hadn't shaved. I'd not had that with any other manager. Do you remember we'd leave our hotel room open hoping he'd pop his head in and drop us the team? It worked once: "Don't tell anyone but be ready for tomorrow."
SG: We'd be jumping around the room. We had all the tricks. Eating slowly in the canteen to be last with the manager, hoping he'd give you the nod about the line-up.
When I think now, winning the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup in one season was incredible. Think what a club like Spurs or Everton would give for that?
DM: We preferred playing in the middle but someone had to do the graveyard shift on the right or left.
SG: Honest to God it used to proper pull on my insides when I'd be playing on the right. Not so much at 19 or 20 but Rafa did it to me later on. I stayed professional but felt out of it. I grew up in the middle of the pitch and liked looking for the ball, probably too much.
DM: Has that influenced the way you manage? I think being open does create respect.
SG: If a player is coming out the team, I'll try to have a respectful chat why. It may not be a case of being dropped but needing a blow after a run of games. When I played, nothing was said. You'd get in the car wondering where you stood. You can't communicate like that all the time. But if it's a big fixture and someone was expecting to play and could be down, an explanation definitely helps.
DM: People will assume you're the next Liverpool manager because of your status as a player.
SG: I understand why because I was captain for so long and a large chunk of the fanbase would like me back at the club. But I'm bright enough to realise that, first and foremost, you have to be good enough. The owners need to think you're the right man.
Let's say Klopp wins the Premier League, Champions League and goes because he feels he can't do any more. They aren't going to pick me if I am only the 20th best candidate.
And nobody asks if I think I need two or three goes elsewhere. If I got the chance [at Liverpool] I'd want to be best prepared. You can't plan everything season by season. If things turn in months, you'd be out of work.
That's how brutal the job is, but you are aware before you go in. Jurgen Klopp told me he'd made two years of mistakes away from the cameras, getting his pitch confidence. That is what I did at Liverpool with the youngsters. I didn't go into Rangers thinking I'd cracked it. Am I ready for the Liverpool job right now? Maybe not.
DM: I know you'll want to try to win everything with Rangers but the fans have to be happy with the past 20 months, closer to Celtic and a run in Europe.
SG: I'm pleased. We've improved the team, stadium, training ground, medical department and sport science. There has been definite progress, but I don't sit back content.
I need to keep pushing this in every way. We are 10 points or so better off than last year but so are Celtic. It is still a huge challenge. It is hard to chase something that is powerful and improving themselves. Can we get there? That is the interesting thing. I have belief.
DM: From the outside, you've swapped one goldfish bowl for another, Liverpool for Glasgow, with time in Los Angeles in between.
SG: Liverpool and Glasgow have similarities but it's different for me. I had to live in Liverpool with my family. It's my city. I go to schools, shops, out and about.
I went to America because I'd been in Liverpool all my life and wanted a different experience. I didn't enjoy the ending at Liverpool either. Partly because of the Chelsea thing, coming so close to winning the league but also because it felt they'd offered me a year's contract because I was Steven Gerrard and they didn't want the fan backlash. Deep down, I thought they wanted me to go.
DM: That's how it looked. It happened to Frank Lampard at Chelsea. It happened to me at Fulham. We'd had the best season in the club's history and they gestured me a contract. You're left feeling it's time to leave.
SG: That was the reality for me but it still hurt. I didn't want to play for another team in this country, but I didn't want to stop playing. Would I have done things differently in hindsight? Yes, because things changed at Liverpool. If I'd signed a year extension, I may have got a chance to play for Klopp, which would have been a different learning curve. But from a lifestyle point of view, and me freshening up for the next challenge in my life, it was probably the right thing.
DM: It was hard for Jordan Henderson to follow you as Liverpool captain but in the past two years I've thought "Wow". He'll never be you but he has become a great leader. I wouldn't want to play against him. I think he's the first name in England's midfield for Euro 2020.
SG: We both know there are players who are "at it" every day. I appreciated Jordan's power and fitness by training with him. Some players play for themselves, Jordan does the dirty running, grappling for second balls, 12 or 13km Saturday and Wednesday, again and again. Teams can't function at Liverpool's level without a cog like Jordan Henderson. He's obviously going be a Premier League winner. I look at him and think: good for you.
He has that confidence now. He has lifted the European Cup above his head. I don't deserve one iota of credit, he has done it all himself, but I remember a chat with Jordan in LA a while ago and he wasn't sure whether he was coming or going at the club. I remember saying to him don't give up on Liverpool, you'll be fine. I knew what he had inside and that he would get there. You know with certain people.
DM: Where did you watch the Champions League final win against Spurs?
SG: I went. It was the first time I'd been to a final as a fan. I'd done TV work at the 2018 final when they lost to Real Madrid but I thought I'd accept Liverpool's invite this time, have a nice glass of wine and be with Kenny [Dalglish], Rushy [Ian Rush] and all the staff.
I had a lump in my throat because Kenny was next door to me crying. I ended up more emotional because Kenny was crying rather than the result! It was great and there were some players there from the back end of my era. I knew the pain we'd been through.
DM: You're celebrating a 40th birthday this year. Planning anything for the big day, May 30?
SG: Don't mention it, I've got greys popping out all over the gaff! I'll be with my family. My daughter is doing GCSEs and her half-term falls right on my birthday. So, a real family celebration, no plans for football.
DM: I don't see many worry lines. Must be the botox!
SG: You didn't see me a couple of weeks ago when we lost at Kilmarnock! I remember Rafa Benitez saying to me as a manager you have to be a good actor. Put the face on. Sometimes you feel angry but be positive. When you're manager, people follow your lead.
DM: Houllier would go into a back room to gather his thoughts. Even if he was fuming, he'd be calm in front of the camera.
SG: I need to get better at that.
DM: You were excited after beating Celtic.
SG: I'll never apologise for being authentic. I am passionate after a win. I don't think people on the outside understand the pressures you are under in that moment. I do ask myself if it was too much but then I think Celtic beat Aberdeen last weekend, and 11 players and Neil Lennon are jumping about and celebrating with the fans. I'm totally fine with it.
There are still parts of me where I do things and think 'I could've done that a little bit better'. And I don't think that will ever go away.
DM: Self-analysis is good. For anyone. If you don't do it, you are arrogant. You're in your second season as a manager, Frank Lampard is in his second season. Funny how your careers are so closely aligned.
SG: I admire Frank for his bottle, leading Chelsea in the biggest league in the world during a transfer ban. I'm proud of him as a former team-mate.
There will naturally be a comparison to me and Frank because there was when we were players. Could we play together? Who was better? There is still an element of that but the reality is we are in two completely different jobs.
DM: I'd like to see it become a top managerial rivalry over the next 10 or 15 years.
SG: So would I. I'm sure Frank has had the same thoughts. But I'd also love to become a rival to Jose Mourinho. Even now, I am a rival to Neil Lennon and Derek McInnes. I hope I'm involved in this game a long time, but we know a bad couple of years and I'll be sitting next to you on Match of the Day.
DM: I've said before I remember you nodding off in team meetings at Liverpool. I can't imagine what you'd think if one of your players had a snooze while you spoke about Rangers v Celtic.
SG: Let me put you right there, our meetings at Liverpool could last 40 minutes. My meetings are eight to 12 minutes.
DM: It didn't affect your performances though.
SG: That's the key. If someone nods off in one of my team meetings and gets the winner against Celtic, I'll get him a pillow! One thing will never change, players are still motivated by money and days off.
We had one bad training session after the players had gone on a break, I threatened to restrict days off unless they bucked up. The next session was the best we've ever had. It was like watching Brazil.
DM: We can't leave without mentioning Jurgen Klopp again. He's honest with his players. He warned them last weekend that Norwich were better than the league position suggested and that's why Liverpool respected them and won the game 1-0.
SG: He has this stature. When he walks in a room, it's "Whoa". If he was your manager you'd think "I am running here". This Liverpool team are monsters and it's come from him the moment he arrived.
For the players to have that level of respect for their manager in a modern dressing room is special. You can see everyone is tuned in, physically and mentally. To get that from your players is a tough nut to crack. And I sense Liverpool is growing again around the world.
Beat Braga 0-1 on the night to quality, (a 0-0 wouldv'e been enough but what a great result for Stevie)
Ryan Kent turning out to be quite the buy.
Great result, lets hope they get Utd so Stevie can kick them out of the cup.
That would be fantastic.
When Gerrard's potential as a manager was originally discussed, lots of people do point out that he is, by his own admission, prone to dark moods and prolonged grumpiness and negativity. This isn't any real surprise, but he needs to learn how to control it better, or at least turn it into something more useful.
Having his black cloud following him around for days when it's not going well can be a problem when you're the one in a leadership position trying to inspire everyone else.
Steven Gerrard is suddenly discovering that fame as a footballer and adoration from the stands count for little when it comes to the tricky business of management. The 39-year-old has been rumoured for the past 48 hours to be on the brink of quitting Rangers, where he has been in charge for 19 months, as his team’s domestic form starts to slide alarmingly.
Gerrard is going nowhere — at least, not this week, anyway — but Rangers’ eviction from the William Hill Scottish Cup at the quarter-final stage to Hearts last weekend was one more blow for a man who, since January, has been singularly unable to stop his team’s decline.
At one stage just two points behind leaders Celtic but with a game in hand, Gerrard’s team have now lost in the Ladbrokes Premiership to Hearts and Kilmarnock, and drawn with St Johnstone, while their Old Firm rivals under Neil Lennon have coasted clear. Rangers sit 12 points behind Celtic, albeit with a game in hand, and last weekend’s cup loss was one more blow for Gerrard, who described the Hearts defeat as his lowest point since coming to Glasgow. He cut an abject and — even worse — helpless figure at Tynecastle.
Those of us who pleaded two summers ago that a club as big as Rangers was no place for a rookie to cut his managerial teeth were roundly trashed and dismissed as Gerrard, a Liverpool youth coach of 15 months’ experience, took up the weighty Ibrox reins amid feverish excitement in June 2018. Today, the mood is decidedly changing. There are Rangers fans now calling for Gerrard to go, and an aggressive debate has broken out among the faithful about whether he is the right man for the job after all.
The domestic facts look quite stark. With the league title now remorselessly heading in Celtic’s direction once more, Gerrard is about to record zero from six in terms of Scottish trophies entered and won. It looks a rank failure from a Rangers manager who has spent £20 million-plus on new players — a small fortune in Scotland — while coming away empty-handed.
There has been one source of solace for Gerrard to date: the Europa League. Rangers have played well in the competition and are through to the last 16, where they will face Bayer Leverkusen for a place in the quarter-finals. That would be no mean feat, though the previously adoring Rangers supporters simply cannot get out of their heads how badly things have slipped under Gerrard, and most especially in those areas where the manager himself seems distinctly culpable.
Gerrard prizes Rangers playing a form of 4-3-3 — they scarcely deviate from it — and for a while it was working very well. Yet since results started to go against them, and the likes of St Johnstone and Kilmarnock worked out how to thwart them, Gerrard has stood accused of not knowing how to change. Tactical flexibility cannot be beyond him, yet he shows little evidence of proactively altering the fate of a game when it is turning against his players.
Then there is Gerrard’s signing policy, bringing in players who appear, frankly, not good enough to catch Celtic. In particular, centre halves have come in — Connor Goldson, George Edmundson, Nikola Katic and Filip Helander — and all have failed to fully convince onlookers. With other players at times struggling — Steven Davis, Sheyi Ojo, Glen Kamara and Greg Stewart among them — Gerrard must dread another vast summer overhaul, pitfalls and all. He will also have to buy a new goalkeeper, given that Allan McGregor, a hot-headed Rangers hero, is 38 and starting to slow up.
Something pretty blunt has happened. Opposition Scottish managers have rumbled Gerrard, and how he sets up his team, and he is suddenly devoid of answers in response. Famous or otherwise, it is not a good look.
The next two weeks will go a long way to determining Gerrard’s fate. At Ibrox tomorrow night his team play Hamilton Academical, a side Rangers should ordinarily make mincemeat of, though few will be surprised if they struggle. A trip to the Highlands to face Ross County is up next on Sunday and then, in the space of four days, games against Leverkusen and Celtic. The test is plain: does Gerrard have it in him to halt the slide or not?
The mood music around this iconic figure of British football is changing in Glasgow. Gerrard had been lauded, both in the media and the stands, since coming to Scotland, in part due to Europa League progress. But now there is less certainty. Now there is a shifting view that, just perhaps, a manager of Rangers should not be learning on the job as he goes along after all.
Right now Gerrard is facing one of the stiffest tests he has ever known in football. He is on the brink of becoming the first Rangers manager in 68 years to go two full seasons without a trophy.
Rangers lost again yesterday, 0-1 at home to 2nd from bottom Hamilton.
On his greatest night in football, Steven Gerrard got the better of Paolo Maldini of AC Milan in Istanbul. Now the team Gerrard manages can't get the better of David Moyo of Hamilton Academical in Glasgow.
Wednesday's loss at home to the 11th best team in the Scottish Premiership was another Rangers low in a lengthening list. Increasingly, Gerrard is looking like a man who has no idea what to do to arrest the slapstick that's going on in his defence and the obvious lack of mettle throughout the team when they're in a hole and need to get out of it.
They are now producing the kind of results that led to the dismissal of his predecessor Pedro Caixinha. The fans signalled their support for him during Wednesday's game, but the backing has to be wearing thin. The same fans turned on Ally McCoist in the dog-days of his management of Rangers, their superhero pilloried. Gerrard can expect to feel their brutal force if the awfulness continues much longer.
On Saturday, when Rangers were knocked out of the Scottish Cup by the 12th best team in the country - Hearts - Gerrard looked a haunted man and said he needed a "real, strong, long think" about things.
He said that losing to Hearts was the lowest moment of his time in Scotland because it signalled the end of his last shot at silverware this season, the league title all but conceded to Celtic. Six domestic trophies entered and nothing to show for it but one losing final. "It's not good enough and I'm responsible," he stressed, quietly and almost forlornly.
Gerrard wanted a response from his players against Hamilton and all he got was more vulnerability. Since returning from their winter break, Rangers have played 14 matches and have won only eight. They lead a bizarre double life between impressive performances as underdogs in Europe and feeble performances as favourites in domestic competition.
At the turn of the year, when he roared in acclamation of victory at Celtic Park, it was easy to see his project as a serious thing, nearing maturity. Rangers were clever, physical, well-organised, well-motivated and deserving of what looked like a significant win in the backyard of their great rival, a first in many years.
Having scaled the mountain, they got dizzy. Announcing themselves as title contenders in the first half of the season was all very well, but backing it up in the second half has been beyond them again. Gerrard's players have shrunk in front of his eyes. From storming Celtic to being spooked by Hamilton. The manager is in a bad place right now.
Back in late November, when times were good for Rangers, the chairman Dave King asked Gerrard and the director of football, Ross Wilson, to calculate what the Ibrox player pool was worth in the here and now and what it could be worth in the near future.
Clearly King was wanting to hear some telephone numbers or else why ask the question in the first place. And, regardless of the fact that Rangers had won no trophies under Gerrard, telephone numbers were exactly what he got.
The valuations reported back to King were £55m and £103m respectively. "They are estimates by two individuals who know the qualities of players and who know the market," said King at the time. "This exercise validated my own information that the losses we have incurred have been well spent."
King would no doubt want to take those words back, but not nearly as much as he'd like to take the money back. Under Gerrard, more than £20m has been spent on transfer fees and many more millions have been spent on salaries and yet the team is going backwards, further adrift in the league now than they were a year ago.
It's hard to know what value Wilson and Gerrard put on Connor Goldson, but the centre-half sold the winner to Hamilton. It's hard to know what price tag was ascribed to James Tavernier and Ryan Jack and the other Rangers players who gifted Hearts the winner on Saturday. There's no telling how much the management thought they could get for Alfredo Morelos, a player who missed the cup quarter-final on account of his latest disciplinary issue, but Morelos has now scored one goal in his last 12.9 hours of football.
Not that long ago, King and Gerrard almost competed with each other in pointing out how much money they would refuse for their striker. Thirty million wasn't enough. Forty million wouldn't cut it. Fifty million and the bidder would be sent away with a flea in their ear.
These are very different to the freakonomics that did for Rangers in 2012, but they're freakonomics none the less. They have invested heavily to stop Celtic and it's not working.
They spent £7m on Ryan Kent, who has scored seven goals in all competitions this season. Outside of Ibrox, 17 players have scored more goals than Kent has in 2019-20 and another five have scored the same number. One of them is the Celtic centre-half Christopher Jullien.
Kent is young and he might come good, but he epitomises the problem. He said recently that Rangers are at their best when they're underdogs - a bit of an issue when they are roaring hot favourites in about 90% of the games they play.
Michael Beale, Gerrard's assistant, made a similar point when asked about the success that Rangers have had in beating Braga, Porto, Feyenoord and Legia Warsaw in Europe this season, while failing to beat, and in some cases losing to, Hearts, Kilmarnock, St Johnstone, Aberdeen and now Hamilton. "I think the games in Europe are refereed in a certain way and the games are played more technically and less physically and that suits a lot of the players we have," said Beale.
Refereeing standards might be poor. Aggression might be over the top. But that's the reality of Scottish football and it has to be embraced. Celtic accept that reality and have the players with the mentality to deal with it, sometimes through the excellence of their football and sometimes through the strength of their personality and their dogged will to win ugly, if that's what it takes.
Gerrard has brought in a host of players and not many of them are showing that they've got the moral fibre to battle on. Kent wants to be the underdog, but that's not the way it works at Rangers. Beale has players who are more suited to European competition, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the matches he absolutely must win are not in Porto and Poland but in Perth and Pittodrie.
On Wednesday, Brian Rice's driven team went to Ibrox and won a fantastic victory. Hamilton live in the real world of a relegation fight. They are dwarfed by Rangers in every conceivable way bar mental strength.
Gerrard has signed too many players who are of little use to him now, bit-parters shoved to the margins. His leaders have evaporated. His chief goalscorer has stopped scoring. His defenders look fearful of their own shadow. It's remarkable how quickly it's unravelled. Europe is the only solace, but it's limited when Celtic are closing in on nine-in-a-row.
These are intense times for him. He's now fully exposed to the unique stresses of life in Glasgow as the struggling half of the big two. The pressure that comes with the territory is hard to bear. Gerrard is not quite broken, but he's buckling.