Reviving a Fallen Giant: Steven Gerrard at Rangers
When Rangers entered administration and plummeted out of the Scottish top flight all the way down to the fourth division, it had hit rock bottom. Now, eight and a half years later, not only are the Gers firmly back among the domestic elite, but Steven Gerrard has Scotland’s most decorated team on the verge of knocking hated foe Celtic off its perch.
Rangers hit a financial roadblock in 2012. The club was unable to pay back its debts and entered administration, resulting in the sale of its assets; the original company officially liquidated later that year. Thus, one of the world’s most trophy-laden organizations essentially ceased to exist. With top-flight clubs preventing the new Rangers from inheriting the position of the old team, it had to be reestablished in the fourth tier.
The 54-time Scottish champions weren’t stuck in the semiprofessional mire for too long, though. In just four years, Rangers won three promotions and returned to the Premiership, making a swift recovery. However, its four-year absence did give Celtic the opportunity to become the unrivaled dominant force in Scottish football.
A New Era
After three hugely disappointing seasons back in the top division, Rangers secured the services of Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard. This was anything but a straightforward decision, as Gerrard had no previous managerial experience in senior football. Although accompanied by plenty of fanfare, there was a sense of uncertainty and perhaps even a hint of desperation about the hire. This was very much a high-risk move with the potential for immense reward.
Three seasons into Gerrard’s reign, it’s fair to say that the gamble has paid off big time. Despite the 40-year-old basically having to learn on the job, there has been tangible improvement from his side year upon year. As Gerrard tirelessly worked to refine his tactics and approach to the game, the Glasgow outfit gradually began making up ground on its city rival.
Back on Top
With Celtic now in turmoil, the Gers have seized the moment. Undefeated, boasting a defense that has conceded only seven goals all season, and having won all but three of its 25 matches, Rangers currently find themselves 23 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership table. Even with three games in hand, the gap seems unassailable for the Bhoys.
Gerrard has also turned around Rangers’ fortunes on the continent. He guided his side into the latter stages of the Europa League last season and indeed this year, too, ending a nine-year spell without European knockout football. It is only a matter of time before Gerrard and his players have some silverware to show for their efforts.
Illustration by: pinisantoro