If there’s one thing Walter Smith was a titan of, as well as football management, it was the psychological side of the game.
Getting each player on his side whether playing or not, a fringe player or a Brian Laudrup – every squad Walter had was filled with guys who would die for him on the pitch.
He commanded their absolute respect – and bear in mind, this was during his first season as a senior manager in 1991. It just continued thereafter and got even more impressive.
Ergo, one thing, as a rookie manager in Steven Gerrard, just Walter technically was all those years ago, the current Rangers boss is quite simply making a hash of is man management.
Over the past two matches Steven Gerrard has, thanks to injury, had to rely on two players he had earlier criticised heavily.
Against St Johnstone pre-match he smeared Lee Wallace’s credibility, pointing out his unimportance to him and the club, before then having to call on him following Borna Barisic’s untimely injury.
Against Hibs, Connor Goldson had to come off to be replaced by Nikola Katic, a player Gerrard had already ruined via poor management, coming up with a new reason of ‘predicting the future’ with the Croat, claiming a young player like he would (and had) lost form hence dropping him, but not deploying the same management on others of the same and similar age.
It meant when called upon, these players were professionally doing their best, but when it came to heart, the ones they would be giving it for were the fans who love both of them.
Both Wallace and Katic got huge cheers when they came on, demonstrating their popularity with fans, but if there’s a way to NOT man manage players, these two examples would be pretty exemplary.
This isn’t a smear job on Gerrard – we don’t know him as a man and cannot judge his character. He was a legend of a player and it is a crime to all good and fair-minded football fans that a player like he never won the league. Just like it’s a crime Ryan Giggs never competed at a single major championship for Wales.
But we must judge our manager in terms of the job he is doing – and we have to say he is getting more wrong than right.
At the moment anyway.