With Steven Gerrard’s Rangers success levels looking potentially borderline limitless, we have to invoke the ‘Uncle Walter’ clause.
That is, just how does Stevie G’s Rangers compare with Walter Smith’s? And that goes for both his 3IAR one and his 9IAR one.
Let’s first by saying for trophies, obviously, Walter wins hands down. He was an incredible manager and his team did astonishing things – CL in 92/93, 9IAR itself, and of course Manchester 08 and the astonishing 07 turnaround.
However, we have to take serious consideration about a number of key factor about Gerrard’s side, things which give him major clout in comparison.
Obviously, Stevie hasn’t won a thing – that’s crucial – he has no trophies to his name as manager, and we absolutely recognise that.
However, Gerrard, in 3 years, has turned Rangers around from an absolute joke against Progres Neiderkorn and struggling v sides of the calibre of Aberdeen, to absolutely destroying the SPL, plus completely looking in its own league in Europe.
And these two aspects are important.
Walter did not play great football, but effective football. He knew how to make his teams win, always win, and win ugly if need be. The players worked so hard for him, and never knew they were beaten, but silky play wasn’t a major part of Walter’s repertoire.
With Stevie, Rangers deliver, this season at least, excellent football, pleasing football, and football which is tactically varied, flexible, and efficient. It works against almost every team we face, and the only flaws in the past month or two has been failure to keep up the tempo in the final 20-30 minutes of some matches. Ask Benfica. And indeed even Falkirk.
But domestically? This season it’s every inch as effective as Walter, but more pleasing on the eye.
Europe wise is even more interesting. Walter’s Rangers, aside 92/93 and Manchester simply wasn’t very good in Europe. Kaunas, AEK, Grasshoppers and worse got the better of his side, and most of Rangers’ European campaigns under Smith were frankly mediocre at best.
The same can’t be said of Stevie. His Rangers matches and indeed surpasses most teams it plays, and to have beaten, comfortably, the likes of Galatasaray, Liege, Porto, Feyenoord, Young Boys and a glut of others shows just how good his team is. Is it better than Walter’s? We’d have to say in Europe at least, yes, it probably is. It gets the results and performances every season, and doesn’t just excel in occasional years.
We don’t ever remember the level of praise Stevie’s Rangers is getting every levied at Walter’s, on a European level – domestically, sure, but on the continent? Nope, it was never like this.
Many Rangers fans, even the older Bears of vintage generations, have claimed this is the best Rangers team they’ve seen in their lifetime.
It’s lofty praise given the achievements of past ones, but it’s hard to argue with what we’re witnessing here.
It is an exceptional side, an exceptional squad.
Win that first trophy and they become legends.