After a four-year spell in the Ibrox dugout, former Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard was announced as the new manager in the vacant position at Premier League side Aston Villa, with many Rangers fans now wondering on how the Gers will be able to cope with this sudden departure in the hopes that the SPL title can return to Ibrox.
Gerrard was named as Rangers boss back in 2018 and would bring great success back to Ibrox including the Glaswegian giants first Scottish League title since 2011, a year before the infamous demotion down to the fourth tier of Scottish football.
As well as enjoying great success domestically, Rangers also impressed under Gerrard’s tutorship in European competitions with perhaps their greatest feat being the insurmountable victory over Portuguese side Braga where Ianis Hagi sent Ibrox into bedlam.
Rangers also saw a major improvement in fortune and results in their derby encounters against bitter rivals Celtic including a victory over Brendan Rodgers while he was in his final stint at Celtic Park, with Rodgers now being in charge of Leicester City and a former manager of Gerrard during his final few years at Liverpool throughout his illustrious professional playing career.
Under Gerrard’s tutorship, Rangers have grown back to providence in the Scottish topflight and have since ended Celtic’s decade long dominance over the league with another title challenge being placed on the cards this season with Rangers also competing in the Europa League Group Stage.
Gerrard’s final games at Rangers and upcoming encounters:
Gerrard recently took charge of Rangers’ 1-1 Europa League draw against Danish side Brondby before returning to Ibrox to clinch a 4-2 win against Ross County in the league just before the scheduled November international break.
Despite Rangers entering the break with a four-point lead at the top of the table over Celtic, Gerrard would later bolt to England to join Premier League giants Aston Villa who had recently announced the departure of manager Dean Smith after a poor start to the season that had left the Villains sitting in 16th place after a summer window of hefty spending following the departure of their superstar winger Jack Grealish.
Gerrard’s departure from Ibrox came straight out of the blue with many fans still shocked by the sudden announcement that would soon follow with Rangers still being firmly locked in a tense title race with Celtic and other early season pacesetters.
Rangers also have tough games coming up both in the Scottish league and in the Europa League as they look to gain passage through to the knockout stages in a group that is proving to be a major challenge for the Glaswegian side.
Rangers will host Sparta Prague after the international break and will then travel to group leaders Lyon in France with fans still hoping that the Rangers board will find a suitable replacement for Gerrard in the coming weeks.
The first post-Gerrard Old Firm derby against Celtic will take place on the second of January meaning Rangers still have a large period of time to find a dependable replacement before this eagerly anticipated fixture.
In the build-up to the derby, Rangers also have tough games against Scottish Cup winners St. Johnstone, third placed Hearts as well as Hibernian.
Replacement and season objectives:
Following on from Gerrard’s sudden departure, Rangers have appointed former Rangers player Giovanni Van Bronckhorst who was formerly in charge at Feyenoord in the Dutch league before heading to China to take the helm at Chinese Super League side Guangzhou City.
Swansea City manager Russell Martin was also a name being labelled as a potential suitor in Scotland with the Swans currently occupying a mediocre twelfth place in the ever competitive and unpredictable Championship table but he says it was never going to happen.
Former Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes was in the conversation after he left the Dons by mutual consent back in March of course.
Other notable names included Gerrard’s former England teammate Frank Lampard who has since been out of a job following his sacking as Chelsea boss back in January, Lampard’s former Chelsea teammate and ex-Aston Villa assistant manager John Terry was on the cards to take the vacant position with Dean Smith, Alex Neil and former assistant manager Gary McAllister also names that have were raised as likely favourites.
Given that the season is still in its earlier periods, there is still a bountiful of football to be played before it becomes abundant on who are the perennial contenders for the Scottish League title this season.
Rangers also aspire to make a long-awaited return to the UEFA Champions League after a play-off disappointment against Swedish champions Malmo FF earlier this season. After their SPL win last season, Rangers were amongst the favourites on the Champions League betting odds to qualify however sadly were defeated. Rangers’ fans hope that GVB will take Rangers all the way to the Champions League via SPL victory.
Gerrard’s departure certainly came as a shock to everyone involved with the club, but Rangers still have high aspirations in motion for this season that is sure to involve retaining their Scottish League title and earning passage through to the Europa League knockouts.