The Rangers have waited 10 years to return to the top of Scottish football and Steven Gerrard has contested his entire career for a league title, but the time has finally come for the blue side of the Glasgow Divide. Celtic’s latest offense at Dundee United on Sunday has been known for several months, that fugitive leaders Rangers were not being caught as they prevented the Hoops from setting a new record of 10 consecutive Scottish League titles.
While the jungles on both sides of the Old Firm Divide have their periods, as the other had won the first one-after-nine, neither had the Rangers’ depth decreased in the past decade before.
After returning to the fourth tier of Scottish football after going into liquidation in 2012, it took the Rangers four years to return to the top flight.
Even returning to the premiership, they were ill equipped to compete with the Celtic side that won 12 home trophies in a row between 2016 and 2020.
Gerrard was the first Rangers manager who was given a third season to prove himself after failing to win the trophy in his first two.
Gerrard topped the table on Saturday with a 21-point lead.
“We’ve played with maturity and control throughout the season. What we have seen is a team that is now in a place that can play with maturity, control and style.
– Patience Pay Off
That patience has been rewarded more and more, as has the Gers captured the title without losing a game, but it was also earned.
Celtic may have prevailed over the past two seasons, but there were indications that the former Liverpool and England captain was appointed to go along with the Rangers’ star dust.
Gerrard, in his first season, led the Kellars to two league victories over Celtic since 2011, then his second win at Celtic Park for the first time in a decade.
However, it was the mark he was making on European football that proved to be a better barometer of Gerrard’s tactical nest.
After being embarrassed by Progres Niederkorn in the Europa League, in the first qualifying round of the season before Gerrard arrived, the Rangers found themselves in the final 16 of that competition for the second consecutive season.
For all its domestic silverware and a huge financial advantage over the rest of Scottish football over the past 10 years, Celtic’s last victory in the European competition was in 2004.
Gerard’s European record was built on an organized defense that could spring quickly to counter-attack in a dangerous way.
In his first two seasons, being a hero with the ball against the rest of Scottish football, often proved the Rangers undone.
Hamilton suffered a 1–0 home defeat just a year before Scottish football ceased due to a coronovirus epidemic.
That night in Ebro many fans replaced Gerrard and did not believe he could take the Rangers forward. However, a five-month break as the 2019/20 Scottish season did not allow the 40-year-old to reflect and return with the right mix between attack and defense.
At home level, the Rangers have conceded an incredible nine goals in 32 league games. In Europe, they went on the front foot to defeat Royal Antwerp 9–5 on aggregate in the final 32 of the Europa League.
The use of a narrow front three and flying full-back to provide width has earned comparisons with the style used by Jurgen Klopp to turn Liverpool into title winners after a 30-year wait.
Gerrard never received a Premier League winner’s medal at Enfield as a player, but his achievements in handling the Glasgow goldfish bowl have already firmly connected him with a return to Liverpool, when Klopp moves on.
That time will definitely come. For now, Gerrard has earned himself the status of a hero in one half of Glasgow, which he experiences as a local legend in Jersey.
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