Steven Gerrard sits on a low-backed chair, electric lights beaming down from above, highlighting his furrowed brow and bearded chin. He is relaxed, leaning back in a tie-less suit, hands resting on his knees. In the enclosed studio, Gerrard is joined by Ian Wright, Glenn Hoddle and presenter Jake Humphrey, as Anfield looms in the background.
Discussion turns to what it takes to be a Premier League player.
"I was obsessed," said Gerrard straightforwardly. "You have to be obsessed."
"Even though they're your teammates you have to be obsessed and move them out the way. And once your in, they're staying out the way and they're not coming back."
"Do you get frustrated when you see brilliant talent that is not obsessed?" asks Humphrey.
"The word talent frustrates me as well," said Gerrard, after a sigh. "I love talent, I love seeing it. The important thing for me is these players need to understand the other side of the game: fighting, winning, tackling; going where it hurts, letting your lungs burn, really digging deep."
We've long debated what type of manager we'd like to see. Some have argued for the young, up-and-coming tactical coach; to implement a modern style on this stuttering Rangers team. Others, more realistically, have argued for a more pragmatic appointment; to get us back to the basics, winning football matches and putting in a shift. Steven Gerrard perhaps represents a middle-way.
The man is young; he has no real experience, other than a season or so as Liverpool's academy coach. In that sense he is up-and-coming. He's also worked with some of the best coaches around at the moment, in Benitez and Klopp -- and that other one, who's doing OK across the city -- so hopefully he has some new ideas to impart on our, often clueless, team.
In another way, he is a pragmatist. His playing career was all about winning, even if he ultimately missed out on that much-desired PL crown. Going by his tactical approach as manager with the Liverpool youths, he began with the basics. He opted for a solid back-four in a 4-4-2 diamond, or a 4-2-3-1 in his early matches. Then, in the face of growing injuries to key players, Gerrard switched to a 3-4-3, ushering in a upturn in results.
His tactics would change to suit the opposition, while retaining the basic structural set-up. To combat a long-ball team in a European game, he ordered his team to play a high-line. Liverpool won the game 1-4. While in another situation he sought a high pressing start, before dropping into a low block to hit on the counter. It shows a willingness to adapt.
Going by his playing career, and his thoughts above, we can expect a team with fight and desire. "My teams will be physical," he said, expanding on that theme in another interview.
The lack of fight has been evident for far too long. There is a mental fragility running through this Rangers side. Lapses in concentration have lead to sloppy goals conceded; there is a lack of desire and heart to deal with the physical side of the game; and no real anger after a defeat, just a hollow 'must do better'. This was summed up, perhaps, by sacked manager Graeme Murty's words leading up to the recent Old Firm game:
"I'm just a man at the side of the pitch," said Murty with a shrug and a grin.
It was no real surprise that Murty was given his marching orders. That attitude is inconceivable in a Rangers manager. A Rangers team must be wrestled, forever onward.
Murty must be thanked for his services. He's been thrown into the deep end on two occasions now, giving us a brief flirtation with stability. But, he was not ready; admitting as much himself early on -- although, it was surprising to read that he was looking to get the job into next season too. His tenure was not successful, even if there was a good spell or two in there. For all his inexperience tactically, both understandable and expected, his main flaw was a lack of character and an inability to wrestle this team into submission.
There is no doubt Gerrard's appointment is a risk, and caution is needed. He's inexperienced, with only a season or so as a youth manager. He seems to have a pragmatists head on his shoulders, going by his tactical approach and a stellar playing career. The qualities Gerrard should bring is character, fight, physicality, and an obsession to win; or, in his own words, "going where it hurts, letting your lungs burn, really digging deep." There's no way he doesn't command the respect of the dressing room. That's the sort man we need leading our club. We can only give him the time to implement it.
Steven Gerrard is expected in Glasgow today to sign a Three-year contract as Rangers manager.
If anyone says they're not excited, they're lying.
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