Rangers hope to confirm Steven Gerrard as their new manager this week after the Liverpool legend agreed a deal with the Scottish club, Goal understands.
Gerrard is set to take his first steps in senior management by replacing Graeme Murty at Ibrox. The former Reds midfielder will give up his role as Liverpool’s Under-18s boss, and plans to appoint another ex-Red, Gary McAllister, as his assistant. An official announcement is expecting in the coming days.
It brings the tantalising prospect of the former England captain going head-to-head with former boss Brendan Rodgers, whose Celtic side have dominated in Scotland over the past decade.
While Rangers are battling Hibernian and Aberdeen for second spot in the Scottish Premiership, Celtic are closing on a second successive domestic treble. The Gers have not beaten their Glasgow rivals in their last 10 attempts.
Gerrard’s task will be to reverse that trend and to close the gap between the two clubs, despite an inferior budget. The 37-year-old has made no secret of his desire to move into management after a productive 12 months coaching at Liverpool’s Academy. He has been linked with a series of posts in the Football League, but has insisted he will know when the time is right to launch his managerial career.
Rangers’ approach came last week, but Gerrard was keen to seek assurances over transfer and wage budgets before committing. In the absence of a permanent manager, director of football Mark Allen has been taking the lead with regards to player recruitment, with Burnley midfielder Scott Arfield and Hull City goalkeeper Allan McGregor lined up for next season. Millwall striker Lee Gregory is also being targeted.
Speaking on Friday, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said the club would not stand in Gerrard’s way should he wish to leave.
"Steven is, was and always will be a Liverpool legend,” Klopp said. "We will support him whatever he wants to do. Simple as that.
"I can imagine that clubs are interested in signing Stevie. Massive experience as a player, and now as a manager. I would think about him as well if I owned a club."
News of Gerrard’s imminent arrival has, as expected, caused quite a stir north of the border, though a number of commentators have warned he faces a daunting task.
Graeme Souness, the former Liverpool midfielder, said: "It doesn’t matter what Steven has achieved as a player, there is nothing that prepares you for management.
"The responsibility you feel to supporters is enormous and it’s how you deal with that burden. That is what brings the pressure. He would be going into a club that is on the back foot, that has been in turmoil for almost a decade now."
Souness did, however, add that: "it is not impossible to bridge that gap (to Celtic) with clever loans and smart buying, and although Celtic have an advantage, I don’t see it as being an insurmountable challenge."