Following a string of failed management gambles including Pedro Caixinha – the Portuguese sacked after just 229 days in charge – Rangers fans looked on through the cracks of their fingers hoping for a man who could help get the Glasgow side even close to former glories.
Followers were crying out for an experienced and steady hand to guide a ship that appeared to be heading back towards the rocks. Dave King and his board acted, and in some style too. Far from going with the tried and tested, they opted to once again, and possibly for the final time, roll the dice.
Bold move by the board
In April 2018, they turned to former Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard, handing the 38-year-old from Merseyside his first proper job in football management. Days later, Scotland international Gary McAllister was appointed his assistant with a number of Liverpool coaches and members of the backroom staff also shifting to Glasgow to lend a hand in Gerrard’s adventure.
Many loyal to the blue were taken aback by the boldness of the move but at the same time excited for what lies ahead for their club in the coming months. Surely a big name such as Gerrard with experience of playing at the very top of the game would attract stars to Ibrox and inspire a few in the dressing room who had seemingly lost their way.
Gerrard reshaping the squad
Gerrard, working alongside director of football Mark Allen, set about reshaping the team, cutting off the deadwood and bringing in players he knows, from his time in the game, can be relied upon. These include Allan McGregor, Connor Goldson, Nikola Katic, Scott Arfield, OvieEjaria, Jamie Murphy and ex-Liverpool teammate Jon Flanagan. Many of the arrivals said the chance to work under a footballing legend was the deciding factor.
At the end of June, Gerrard had already signed seven newbies but more are on their way with 11 thought to be the target as the summer clear-out continues. The rumour mill has gone into overdrive in Scotland with the likes of Jermain Defoe, Fernando Torres and even Lazio star Lucas Leiva mentioned.
Traders think they’ll struggle
A look at the Scottish Premiership outright winning via Oddschecker shows traders have Rangers priced as big as 8/1, well behind the 1/10 of Celtic. There’s a number of special offers available at companies like Betfair that can be used to punt on this market, including £30 in free bets for new customers.
Gerrard and McAllister start with a trip to Pittodrie to take on Aberdeen in week one of the 2018/19 Premiership season. The Dons finished second again last season and manager Derek McInnes rejected the chance to take over from Caixinha. Rangers then host St Mirren before finishing August with a trip to Motherwell. The first Old Firm Derby takes place on week four at Celtic Park. Gerrard vs Rodgers. That’ll be interesting.