In a Rangers of local tradition that opens up to the world every day (12 of the 32 members of your first squad do not have any of the United Kingdom nationalities), the club’s management relied on an example of British greatness to regain the glory lost with relegation to the Fourth Division in 2012: Steven Gerrard. An emblem of Liverpool and the English team, although with the ideal northern sensibility to fit in with the idiosyncrasy of the Glasgow entity.
After promotion to First Division in 2016, the club regretted a couple of improvable experiences on the bench (especially that of the Portuguese Pedro Caixinha, which barely lasted from March to October 2017) and in the summer of 2018 he aimed high with Gerrard. “He is a leader and a winner, he knows what it takes to win. When his name was mentioned to me as an option, it was quite exciting. From the first time we spoke and he explained his vision to me, I knew it was going to be fantastic for this club, “said Dave King, the then president.
In his first two seasons, 2018-19 and 2019-20, he closed the gap with Celtic and along the way he laid the foundations of his project, especially with footballers of the house and also with some weight incorporations; such as the Croats Barisic and Katic, the Swede Helander, the Romanian Hagi, the Jamaican Roofe and, above all, Ryan Kent, a promising Liverpool youth player whom Gerrard already knew from his time training in the youth football club of the River Mersey and the that he managed to get out of there by paying more than seven million euros, a record in post-descent Rangers.
The plan crystallized in 2020-21 with a perfect storm that prevented Celtic’s 10th consecutive league title: Gerrard’s Rangers swept both in the regular season (89 points in 33 games) and in the title playoff (he added 13 points out of 15). He finished the course with 102 points in 38 stakes, with 32 victories and six draws; no one could beat Mr. Liverpool’s pupils.
His performance at the head of the Scottish team does not go unnoticed in England; In 2019, Newcastle tried to recruit him to replace Rafa Benítez, an option that Gerrard rejected. He had and still has work to do at Rangers and, furthermore, his future seems marked in red: It is an open secret that he is Liverpool’s first choice when Klopp leaves in 2024. (He has already announced that he will take a sabbatical then). His ex-teammate Jerzy Dudek, also a former Madrid player, is clear: “Everyone knows that sooner or later the great captain will return. He is the candidate, the only true candidate.”
Gerrard and Madrid, twice close
Gerrard is hardly a member of the select group of the One Club Men; his two seasons at Los Angeles Galaxy They ended 17 years playing for Liverpool’s first team. Although his relationship with the Reds was not always idyllic and Madrid’s insistent interest in taking over his services had a lot to do with it. Twice the white train passed him by his door and twice he preferred not to get on.
On the first occasion, in 2005, Liverpool even announced on its website that Gerrard had requested the transfer, with the player in Ibiza waiting for the negotiations to crystallize; the claims of the British club (45 million more De la Red, Arbeloa and Javi García) tightened the rope too much and he ended up renewing days later, until 2009. In that year, Florentino repeated the attack, again without success. “When Madrid are interested in you, it is flattering. I don’t know if one day I will regret not having changed my scene …”, he said in 2014 about his frustrated transfer.