Robert Redmond: Steven Gerrard shouldn't even consider becoming Rangers manager
He could potentially end his managerial career before it even starts.
Steven Gerrard looks set to become the new Rangers manager. The former Liverpool captain had talks with the Scottish club last week and is reportedly set for more discussions over the coming days. The path to the manager's office at Ibrox is also clear, after Rangers dismissed Graeme Murty on Tuesday, following the 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Celtic.
Gerrard is understood to be keen on taking the role, and is reportedly just waiting for assurances over how much money he will have to invest in new players. Gary McAllister, the former Scotland midfielder and Gerrard's ex-Liverpool teammate, will become his assistant if he takes the job.
However, Gerrard should stay well clear of Rangers. In fact, the job isn't even worth considering. The former England captain would be wise to remain in his current role as Liverpool U-18 manager and wait for a better opportunity to come along. The Rangers job has the potential to end his managerial career before it even gets started.
Celtic won their seventh consecutive league title on Sunday and Rangers are currently 13 points behind in third place, with Aberdeen in second. If Gerrard takes the job, guides Rangers to second-place next season and closes the gap to five or six points, it would, by all logic, represent progress for the club.
Yet, it wouldn't be enough for most Rangers supporters. Gerrard's job in Glasgow will be to topple Celtic. That will be his only remit and nothing else will constitute success.
Rangers supporters consider the club to be the biggest in Scotland and the disastrous last couple of years hasn't changed that view. The context has changed but expectations haven't. Scottish football has been dominated by the Glasgow giants, and this duopoly manifests itself in the outlook. There are no shades of grey. Either Celtic win the league and it's a disaster for Rangers. Or Rangers win the league and it's a disaster for Celtic.
Celtic are in a much better financial shape as a club, they have a very good squad and an experienced coach. They won a domestic treble last season without suffering a single defeat. Rangers are only back in the top flight for the second season after experiencing financial meltdown. Last summer, they were knocked out of Europe by Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg. In the past year, they have lost 5-0, 1-5 and 4-0 to Celtic.
Yet, none of this will be considered if Gerrard becomes the manager. There is no room for nuance in this environment and even less so for a rookie manager. An experienced coach, with money to spend, would find it difficult to return Rangers to the top of Scottish football. For Gerrard, it looks to be an impossible job.
Strangely, most pundits seem to be positive about Gerrard taking the job. Frank Lampard said it would be a "great opportunity" for his former England teammate and he can handle the pressure because "he's no stranger to that with the career he had in the game." Yet, handling pressure as a world-class footballer isn't preparation to be a manager. They're different jobs and success in one field isn't an indicator of success in the other.
Also, the idea that Gerrard can use Rangers to cut his teeth in management, or as a stepping stone to a Premier League job, is absurd. Unless he wins the league and dethrones Celtic, his tenure won't be considered a success. Where will his managerial career go if he fails at Ibrox?
Gerrard should look at Gary Neville as an example of how a coaching career can end before it even begins based on one poor decision. When he became Valencia coach in December 2015, Neville said:
"Valencia are a huge football club of immense standing and I know from my time as a player the passion and dedication of the Valencia fans. I am really looking forward to working with the club’s talented group of players and am excited about the challenge ahead."
He was sacked four months later with fans at the Mestalla chanting, 'Gary, go now'. When the former Manchester United defender took charge, Valencia were in ninth-place, five points away from the Champions League places. When he left, they were in 14th spot and six points away from the relegation zone.
It could be argued that Neville looked at the situation backwards. He saw it as a great opportunity because Valencia were a big club with a passionate fanbase and a talented squad. Some might argue this was a positive outlook, but it proved very naive. He focused on these aspects over the fact that he couldn't speak Spanish, he had no experience of management, he was arriving mid-season, the squad was divided and fans were unhappy with how the club was being run.
He didn't give himself a proper chance to be successful, and as a result, he'll probably never manage again. In truth, we'll never know if Neville could have been a good manager and the same could apply to Gerrard if he takes the Rangers job. His first decision in management could prove his worst and fatal for his career in the dugout.
There are also questions about how suited Gerrard is to the intense pressure that comes with managing one of the Glasgow giants. This is a man who took issue with Rafa Benitez referring to him by his surname rather than his nickname, as the former Liverpool manager did with the rest of his squad. This bothered Gerrard so much he recounted the story in his autobiography. If he didn't like being called "Gerrard" instead of "Stevie", he may have trouble with what he'll be called when he's standing on the sideline as Rangers are getting another drubbing by Celtic.
Not only should Gerrard reject Rangers' offer, he shouldn't even consider it. He shouldn't take into account their history, their stadium or passionate fanbase when contemplating his decision. They're all aspects that can be used against him when things go wrong, which will happen because Celtic are so far ahead of their rivals.
Gerrard should look at Rangers' recent history, how dominant Celtic have been and how unlikely Rangers are to topple them anytime soon - regardless of who is the manager. His achievements as a player will also only buy him so much time with the Rangers squad, supporters and Scottish press. If Gerrard wants to be a manager, he shouldn't go near the Rangers job.