It’s been quite the summer for the famous team from Govan.
Not only has world footballing sensation, Steven Gerrard, taken his place as the clubs gaffer. The fans loyalty has finally been rewarded with European group stage football, something even the most optimistic Rangers fan would struggle to conceive at the start of the 2018/19 season.
Yet, even though Gerrard guided the Gers through four rounds of Europa league qualifiers, there are still those who doubt him.
Perhaps they have a point? After all, as Scotland’s mainstream media have gone out there way to remind us, this is Glasgow Rangers’ worst start to a domestic league campaign in 29 years.
But perspective is needed.
What Gerrard has achieved in only 4 months into his Rangers managerial career is truly outstanding.
It has been severely underplayed just how important it is for the club to reach the group stages of one of Europe’s most famous competitions ‘The Europa League’.
Under his management, Rangers fought from the first Europa League qualifier to the group stages of the competition. A feat only managed by a handful of teams. This alone is arguably The Gers biggest achievement in almost 9 years.
While in the Europa League group stages Rangers have continued to shine with a fantastic 3-1 victory over Austria side Rapid Vienna and an even more impressive 2-2 draw over Spain’s Villarreal, a team with over £90 million of talent. Rangers now hold the record of 12 consecutive games unbeaten in European competition, more than any other Scottish team.
The Liverpool legend was also set with the formidable task of rebuilding a Rangers side which had been so badly burned in the season previous.
The acquisition of centre backs Connor Goldson, Nikola Katic and return of veteran goalkeeper Allan McGregor, has added some much needed steel to the Light Blues defence.
In other areas of the field Gerrard re-signed fan favourite Kyle Lafferty and purchased highly rated Albania international Eros Grezda, from NK Osijek, to bolster the attack. Also adding Liverpool loanees Ryan Kent and Ovie Ejaria who have done nothing but impress the Ibrox crowds since their arrival. Throw in the free signing of Burnley’s Scott Arfield and Rangers are beginning to look a formidable force.
There is no escaping the Light Blues domestic form has not reached the impressive heights of their European campaign.
Yet there are signs of improvement.
The iconic Ibrox Stadium is once again a fortress.
In Gerrard’s first 5 domestic home games the Gers have scored a total of 15 goals while only shipping 3. This winning foundation should put Rangers in good stead for the rest of the season at the famous ground.
On the road the Light Blues have struggled, with this being the main source of criticism for Rangers new gaffer. With two draws against Aberdeen and Motherwell, and slumping defeats to Livingston and fierce rivals Celtic, criticism is warranted but not the extent some have gone to.
While tactical naivety could be seen as the reason behind the point losses at Motherwell and Livingston, the same cannot be said about the performances against Aberdeen and Celtic. With questionable decisions in Rangers draw with Aberdeen, and a visit to Celtic Park. A place in which title winning Rangers teams of the past have struggled to record a result.
With more recent away wins to Hamilton Academical and St Mirren, it looks like Rangers have shaken off their bad away form.
There is no argument with Gerrard’s Rangers.
The positives vastly outweigh the negatives.
European football is a massive coy for the Glasgow side both on and off the pitch and with the Scouse man’s rebuild only partially underway it would be ridiculous to assume the current team will be Gerrard’s finished article. The side will only improve.
Yes, there have been a few disappointing results but it will take time for Gerrard to work out the unique beast the Scottish Premiership is. Given time, there is no doubt Rangers will go from strength to strength and eventually mount a challenge to stifle Celtic’s dominance.