Recently there has been a question doing the rounds asking Rangers supporters to provide your rating out of 10 so far on the Steven Gerrard era at Rangers. For the record, I would give the former Liverpool and England captain a 7. Now, of course, as I write this we have just dropped two points at home to a very average St Johnstone side, and face a difficult cup replay coming on Wednesday against Kilmarnock. These games and results would not change my view, I think so far a 7 is about correct.
My reason for that rating was based around the squad and job he inherited, upon taking the helm last summer. It needed major surgery and was never going to be just a one window fix. Europe was an added bonus, big nights under the lights once again returned to Ibrox, however, this was somewhat of a double edge sword in some sense it proved a bit of a false economy of just where we were at as a club in terms of our rebirth. Positive showings and results against Villareal, Rapid Vienna and a great win the last time we faced our Old Firm rivals had many fans, myself included at times thinking we could run before we could walk. Bumps in the road have happened and believe me will happen again, that shouldn't deter us from the ultimate goal or long term aim, of getting back to challenging year in year out for titles, cups and producing quality young players and an environment for all players to strive and learn in. If it happens quicker than expected, great, if not patience is key.
After all, this is a manager that despite all his experience as a player and under 18 coach was taking his first dip in the pool as number one, no longer would he be expected to follow and implement a philosophy and culture already well in place and several years down the line, no, he would be forced to create and nurture one of his own from scratch, one that bore the scar tissue of previous campaigns. That is a huge difference no matter what level you have played at and how many coaching sessions you have put on before. It takes time and as with everything you only learn and improve by failing and making mistakes big and small.
I have the utmost faith in the manager and the coaching staff he has put in place, results and player recruitment will always drive the bus and be the main focus of attention its both by fans and the media, today we live in an instant world where everything is about how quick we can get things, from our online shopping to the phones we use. Speed is king. Players will come and players will go, gone are the days of players pitching up at Ibrox and spending even 5-7 years it is just no longer the model of modern football. Finding value in players, producing our own then moving them on must be the model we embrace.
The manager and coaching staff are in my eyes still finding their feet, still seeing what players and type of players are needed to meet our goals, both in the short and long term. One thing is certain players with strong minds and wills are required, this is not a club for the well adjusted. Not every player can cope psychologically with the demands and intensity of a club like ours, these are things you only find out about after seeing players close up, day to day, no scouting film or player profile can tell you just how players will react to adversity together with the pressure and demands of playing at a club like ours. The fans demands, to be the best won't change or be silenced, its the manager's job to find players to meet our expectations in the long run, we won't, nor shouldn't ever lower ours.
If I have a slight concern it is that I still don't know in a sense what a Steven Gerrard team yet looks like, I could tell you how a Jurgen Klopp Liverpool team will play, how Spurs will set up under Poch, Man Citys style under Pep and even how any Jose Mourinho team will go about their business like it or not. Gerrard has tried many formations and differing styles of play so far, some are based around the Liverpool model others a hybrid of a few, but none have stuck so far. We don't have the players that they aforementioned sides have, we can't simply ask our players to do the same and expect the same level of results, consultancy or performances. They managers have all had other jobs and experience, trials and errors before reaching their current clubs. We as a club from top to bottom are still in full rebuilding mode following the spivs and sharks that raped and pillaged us. The building blocks are being put in place, we just need to let the foundations set first. Sometimes as fans it's not what we want to hear, like our new phones, watches and TVs we expect everything to be faster, almost instant. Patience is a virtue after all.
Steven Gerrard has already imposed his presence upon our club and now needs to impose his style.
We must find our own way and integrate it, find the correct type of players to do it well with and stick with it. Stay the course. Not necessary in terms of tactics, rather in culture and standards set.
At the moment in our playing style we are caught in the middle of two minds, I think, not quite sure where to go or deploying a system that is best suited to the players at our disposal. Any managers job is to extract the maximum from the group under is stewardship. The thing is this is a very much learn on the job situation, the tactics and instructions will work great on the training field and in the classrooms but the other sides we play get coached as well remember. We will always be the oppositions cup final, we see them at their best, so our players must grasp that, it's not a new thing either, simply the reality of the situation. The application is the issue at present, as always with young, inexperienced group, including a blend of youth players inconstancies will happen.
My feeling is that we will get it right in the long run, the coaching staff and football minds we have at the club are just too good to fail, but it won't be instant or quick and will come with more heartache and frustration. This season was always going to be a learning curve for all involved. Anyone who ever took on a new job knows just how challenging the first six-twelve months can be, never mind one that involves uprooting and living in the goldfish bowl that is Glasgow and Scottish football.
The manager is perhaps struggling to deal with a group and skill set of players he has never faced, spending his whole career both domestically and internationally around elite players. Like his peers Gary Nevile, Frank Lampard and Thiery Henry before him he is finding the transition into the dugout anything but easy, this will take an adjustment period for the manager, along with his coaching staff who will be learning every day about the players under him.
If you think we have a coaching staff at our club who is unable to coach, put on sessions or draw out tactics then you are mistaken in my view, what we have is a group who are learning together and starting on a journey. Nobody is more frustrated than the manager when results don't go our way, you can sense it. That's exactly the drive that made him the player he was, one that will shape the manager he will become.
After all managers, coaches who draw out plays on chalkboards and fancy screens are all too common it's the ones who get into the player's heads and win the heart and minds that really are special. We have that, I truly believe.
The Stevie G train might not be the express, but I have faith it will get us to our final destination.