Steven Gerrard is watching: Rangers youngster sees chance in Hong Kong to impress new manager at Soccer Sevens
Former Reds skipper has Ibrox buzzing, from academy prospects to club legends, as an ex-Liverpool teammate weighs in on why the former England captain will be a hit
The young Rangers development squad in Hong Kong for the Soccer Sevens will already know this is a vital chance to impress. But this tournament will surely have taken on more importance now, given the man who will be sitting in the first-team dugout next season.
“It has given everyone a lift. Steven Gerrard knows what it’s like to play for a club like Rangers,” said
Jack Thomson, captain of the Scottish club’s squad this weekend.
“He understands the pressure that comes with it. His experience of being a young player coming through at a big club like that is going to be invaluable to us.”
The 18-year-old defender and his teammates will no doubt be desperate to catch the former Liverpool captain’s eye.
“Every player that is contracted to Rangers, from the under-10s all the way up, and the young development squad that has come out here to Hong Kong, will want to impress the new manager, because Steven Gerrard is a big name,” said former Rangers player Marvin Andrews.
“I’m sure a lot of people would love to play under him; you know what he has achieved in the game as a player.”
Aside from coming through Liverpool’s academy, Gerrard also took charge of the under-18s last summer.
“He’s quite an approachable guy, Steven. He’ll always offer advice and he’ll always be available for players to speak to him,” said former teammate Jason McAteer
“He’s got that experience of having managed kids himself, he knows what they need. It’ll be very good for the academy at Rangers.”
Questions remain over whether Gerrard is up to the task of managing such a big club – his coaching career was barely in its infancy before he took the Rangers job.
“When he went into the Liverpool academy, I don’t think Steven knew what he wanted to be, a manager or a coach,” McAteer said.
“Over the short period, he realised he relished the pressure that comes with the manager’s job.
“Although he’s got a temperament for coaching too, Steven has made the right decision choosing to be a manager. He’s got the experience, the appetite, the knowledge, and the capacity to be a top-flight manager.
“The lure of Rangers, a massive club, will have been huge too. Those opportunities don’t come around too often, to manage clubs like that.”
Celtic have held a monopoly on the Scottish Premiership title since 2012, with Rangers still finding their feet back in the top flight after returning in 2016, following a four-year absence. The club was demoted to the bottom division of the Scottish Football League after going into administration in 2012.
“He’s up against it,” McAteer said. “But Steven’s got the ability to convince players to come and play for him.
“Liverpool will help him out. He’ll maybe go into the academy. Even from the first team squad there’s a couple of players that maybe just need that little loan spell, a [Dominic] Solanke or a [Danny] Ings maybe.
McAteer said Gerrard will have an instant impact when he walks into the Rangers dressing room or watches the academy.
“They know all about Steven Gerrard, he’s a world-class, world-renowned footballer who’s done everything in the game and has tremendous respect from everybody around the world,” said the 46-year-old, who made 100 appearances for Liverpool between 1995 and 1999.
“So being a young lad, looking up to this player will give them a boost.”
That’s certainly already true for Thomson, who has risen through the club’s academy ranks and been involved with the first-team squad.
“It’s unquestionable, the knowledge he [Gerrard] has of football,” Thomson said. “I don’t think you need to be an amazing coach to be a manager, as long as you can manage men. Him being an ex-captain, I think he’ll do that brilliantly.”
Rangers fans go into every game expecting to win said former Trinidad and Tobago international Andrews, who played 53 times for the Glasgow club between 2004 and 2006, winning the title and two League Cups. But Gerrard will know all about that from his 17 years playing for Liverpool.
“First and foremost he will try to develop a winning attitude,” Andrews said. “Attitude is everything. You can have all the talent, you may be a gifted footballer, but if you have the wrong attitude you won’t make it and be successful.
“He will try to get that mentality. He knows the history of the club, and he will try to instil that in the players he signs.”