19 Mar 19
The Scottish Sun
THE honeymoon period for Steven Gerrard is well and truly over.
A season which promised so much, has ultimately, delivered very little.
It has been a steep learning curve for Steven Gerrard
Excitement levels soared following Gerrard’s bold appointment as Gers boss.
The Liverpool legend has been backed heavily by the Ibrox board – spending close to £10million.
In less than a year, Gerrard has brought in a staggering TWENTY ONE players, including big-name signings Jermain Defoe and Steven Davis.
But many of the recruits have struggled to get to grips with life in Glasgow’s pressure pot.
[boxout headline=”Steven Gerrard’s Rangers signings”]Scott Arfield – free
Allan McGregor – free
Jamie Murphy – £1million
Ovie Ejaria – loan
Nikola Katic – £2million
Connor Goldson – £2million
Jon Flanagan – free
Umar Sadiq – loan
Lassana Coulibaly – loan
Ryan Kent – loan
Borna Barisic – £2.2million
Kyle Lafferty – £450,000
Eros Grezda – £2million
Joe Worrall – loan
Gareth McAuley – free
Jermain Defoe – loan
Steven Davis – loan
Andy Firth – undisclosed fee
Matt Polster – free
Glen Kamara – £45k
Jordan Jones – pre-contract
As a result, the Light Blues will end the campaign trophyless, having been dumped out of both cup competitions while Celtic charge towards another title.
It’s pretty obvious Rangers still have a long way to go to halt the Hoops’ bid for ten-in-a-row – with the green and white ribbons virtually already on this year’s Premiership trophy.
Here, SunSport assesses the six positions Gerrard must improve ahead of a make-or-break new season for the rookie manager.
This has been a sensitive subject among the Rangers support – with Joe Worrall a regular ahead of Nikola Katic.
Worrall immediately ousted £2m signing Katic after his late loan arrival from Nottingham Forest last summer.
But the England youth international has failed to win over the Ibrox faithful due to a number of ropey performances.
Joe Worrall and Connor Goldson have been preferred at the back this season
However, with Worrall due to return to Martin O’Neill’s side in the summer, and Gareth McAuley out of contract, Gers will be short of options at the back.
Connor Goldson has emerged as first-choice centre-half over the course of the campaign and it looks certain he will have a new partner come August.
Rangers poached Borna Barisic from Osijek following his impressive Europa League showings.
The Croatian though, has been plagued by injuries, much to the frustration of Gerrard.
Curiously, former captain Lee Wallace has barely had a look in, with Andy Halliday and Jon Flanagan instead being played out of position.
Wallace – who stuck by the club through its darkest days – looks certain to quit at the end of the season, when his contract expires.
And Gers have to deal with the situation by bringing in a replacement who is ready to compete for a regular starting slot.
Skipper James Tavernier is Rangers’ penalty king
It’s no secret that James Tavernier isn’t the best defensively – but there’s no doubting his attacking qualities.
The skipper is one of the first names on the Rangers team sheet with 11 goals and 12 assists this season.
Yet while he’s a constant threat going forward, Tav is frequently caught out at the back.
As things stand, he has little competition, with the versatile Jon Flanagan out of the picture.
And Gerrard may be tempted to bring in somebody more defensive minded, offering him more flexibility.
‘LOSING MONEY AT ALARMING RATE’ Rangers don’t have financial clout to challenge Celtic says Michael Stewart
Rangers have been crying out for a No10 – dare I say it, someone in the mould of Celtic’s Tom Rogic.
But Gerrard failed to address the issue in January, instead signing Davis and Glen Kamara.
The Light Blues are currently overloaded in the midfield department, with Davis, Kamara, Ryan Jack, Scott Arfield, Ross McCrorie, Andy Halliday, Lassana Coulibaly and Graham Dorrans all fighting for places.
Greg Docherty, Jason Holt and Jordan Rossiter are also due to return from their loans in the summer, adding to an already bloated squad.
Steven Davis has failed to live up to the big hype
Gerrard though, insists he’s closer than ever to finding someone who can unlock stubborn defences and chip in with goals.
He said: “A No 10 was an area we tried but maybe targets you’re after aren’t available or with the funds available you can’t make that happen.
“But it’s definitely an area we’re looking at and I predict that could change in the short-term. Short-term, for me, is the next window.”
Jamie Murphy’s season was brought to a cruel end after tearing his ACL back in August.
And while Ryan Kent has stepped up in his absence, there’s no guarantees the Liverpool loan star will still be a Rangers player next season.
Gerrard’s made it clear he would like to sign the 22-year-old on a permanent deal, but the Reds will demand a sizeable fee for the winger.
Gers splashed out £2m for Eros Grezda but the Albanian attacker has contributed little, due in part to injury, and still has it all to prove.
Youngster Glenn Middleton has also been called upon, but the former Norwich City starlet may head out on loan for more first-team experience.
If Gers are to mount a stronger challenge to the Hoops next season Gerrard will need as many creative options as possible.
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Alfredo Morelos has been hugely prolific for Rangers
Where would Rangers be without Alfredo Morelos? The Colombian has been in sensational form, scoring 29 goals in all competitions.
But the striker has never hidden his dream of playing in the English Premier League – and he might get his wish this summer despite recently signing a new contract.
Gers are picking up a huge chunk of Jermain Defoe’s £65,000-a-week Bournemouth wages but the ex-England star has played second fiddle to Morelos.
Should Morelos be sold, the Light Blues are expected to demand at least £20m for his services, which could then be reinvested in the squad.
And a goalscoring striker would certainly be top of Gerrard’s list.
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