Ever since Steven Gerrard took over at Rangers, the club’s coverage around the world’s sport media has grown.
There was already interest in the Glasgow side returning to the Scottish Premiership, and rekindling their rivalry with Celtic, but the Liverpool legend arriving made things even more box office.
That the club have been doing well in the Europa League has brought more coverage and interest in whether Gerrard could really be on his way to taking them back to their heights and rivalling Brendan Rodgers.
Speaking to France Football, Gerrard was asked about taking over at Rangers, and explained: “I had three-four offers before. But I needed to feel a good feeling. That’s what happened with Rangers. It was a good balance, at the right time, between my expectations and the prestige of the club. I also needed to relive the emotional side of football. I need to feel the strength of a club behind me, to be excited by the challenge.”
Asked about the his ambitions for the future of the club and getting to Celtic’s level of recent years, the manager said: “We are building something special. The fans’ expectations are immense. They are a vital part of the environment. We want to show them that the future will be even better, that they have done the hard part. That will take time. You have to go “step by step” even though I know there is a lot of demand and expectation.
“It’s (getting level with Celtic) part of the goal. Everyone needs to understand that we have to move forward, work in all the compartments to reduce the gap that has grown between us and Celtic. They have dominated in recent years for lack of competition. This first season, we must focus on reducing the gap and then become competitive to go looking for titles.”
On the Europa League adventure, Gerrard said: “It’s a strong signal. This qualification is important financially for the club and its prestige. But it’s also a sporting bonus. It brings experience to my group, which is young.”
France Football put it to the former midfielder that he’s concentrated on youth in the transfer market, and this may cause a negative through a lack of experience, but he clearly doesn’t agree: “Age is not a problem. I especially want my players to have the desire in them. I don’t want guys who come only for the prestige of the shirt. The most important thing at the beginning was to change the standing of the players. (He turns to Gregory Vignal) Greg knows what I’m talking about. He played at Liverpool with me, and for Rangers. He knows the standing of these clubs and what to give when wearing these two shirts. It’s often the urge that drives you to victory. It is not enough to put on the shirt. It must be honoured.”
Continuing on the topic of transfers, the magazine asked if it’s easier to attract players ‘when you’re called Steven Gerrard’.
He laughed, before saying: “We are also sometimes afraid that they will hang up on me! When I arrived, we had to adapt. It was difficult to attract recruits because of the club’s financial situation. For now, we can only have a certain type of player. That’s why I lead an inexperienced group, but one who is hungry. I especially took players in the development, but with this state of mind. Frustrated players lacking playing time in their old clubs.
“Rangers are a beautiful opportunity to showcase. They have everything in this club to progress. But, for me, the first criteria of recruitment is the rage of the players to defend this jersey. We do a lot of work with my staff to identify recruits. It goes well beyond the pitch. We know the players, but we need to know who the man behind is. I want to know his character, to know if he is cut out for the fight. I wanted to change the spine of the team, also have more power, also speed. I was clear when I arrived: I wanted new blood with players who were not mentally impacted by the club’s past.”
Steven Gerrard has Rangers third in the Scottish Premiership, just two points behind Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic.