Sunday, 17 February 2019

Assessment - Steven Gerrard & his Rangers

So it’s the day after the wreckage before, and while Rangers didn’t lose against St Johnstone, the draw very much felt like a loss.

This was a very tough one to take, not just because of how poorly our home side performed, but because the day earlier, against Roma, no less, our kids had just won an international trophy in a brutal dichotomy to the shambles their senior counterparts delivered against the might of St Johnstone.

Yes, Rangers were missing Alfredo Morelos and Allan McGregor, but there is absolutely no excuse for the XI who went out yesterday afternoon to produce that level of dross and who were lucky not to in fact lose to it.

Where do we begin with this horrific display?

Being philosophical, the grand picture isn’t too bad – we have beaten Celtic this season, majorly in part thanks to our manager, and we managed an excellent run in Europe too, with wins over Rapid and Osijek. On that level there’s colossal progress under Steven Gerrard compared with previous managers who could barely point Europe out on a map and for whom beating Celtic in 90 minutes was like climbing Everest.

So we are not going to absolutely lose the plot over one match.

However, there is absolutely no getting around the fact that domestically, Rangers are in pretty much exactly the same place as we were this time last season and the season before that.

That the £10M spent last summer hasn’t really put us into a much stronger domestic position than the £10M we spent the previous one. This is not to say all players have been wastes of money, no that is not the argument.

The argument is that despite the seemingly better players, the iconic manager, and despite that win over Celtic and run in Europe, we are not that much better off under Steven Gerrard in the league than we were under Mark Warburton or Pedro Caixinha, although the hard numbers do suggest otherwise, as we'll reveal later.

It also *feels* like we are, doesn’t it? We have more players we admire, and we have a patriarch legend in the hotseat – but the proof is in the league position and performances, and they are still very much in the 'patchy at best' stage.

A family member recently got in touch, and expressed how well they felt Gerrard was doing and how well Rangers were playing. We pointed out that we’re kind of miles behind Celtic and more or less level with Aberdeen and Killie, give or take fluctuating form now and then. Then the response was ‘but compared with this time last year’ – and sadly you’d have to point out we were miles behind Celtic and around level with Aberdeen and Killie.

It all does ‘feel’ that bit better, given the personnel and the management – but the overall results are not reflecting that feeling. Rangers are now likely eight points behind Celtic and we’re not into March yet – it is true that we do feel like we’ve maybe given them more of a fight, kind of, but then wasn’t it this time last year under Murty that we went on a stellar run and looked like we’d ignited the title race before March’s loss to Celtic at Ibrox knocked the stuffing out.

This time it’s going sideways – there never really was a convincing title race in the first place and while Celtic are no great shakes themselves, they are seven times champions and know how to win when it counts.

Rangers take the occasional flirt with a step forward, then one back – and ultimately despite all the morale from that win on the 29th, that win against Aberdeen recently – despite all of this, we’re not that far ahead of where we were on promotion.

There is some semblance of improvement – we’re an inch better off in second right now than we have been in recent seasons and the numbers you'll see later back that up, but ultimately it’s probably not the dramatic hike many of us would have hoped for.

And results like yesterday’s will continue to blot our copybook whether we like it or not.

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