The Graham Cummins column: Pressure is on Steven Gerrard to guide Rangers to a trophy ahead of Celtic

The Graham Cummins column: Pressure is on Steven Gerrard to guide Rangers to a trophy ahead of Celtic
Celtic manager Neil Lennon and Rangers manager Steven Gerrard at Ibrox. Picture: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire.

RANGERS won’t be favourites against Celtic to win the Scottish League Cup on Sunday, but Steven Gerrard wasn’t appointed the Gers manager to finish runners-up to Celtic and the former Liverpool player will be under pressure to end the Hoops quest for a fourth successive domestic treble.

Gerrard is an ambitious manager and his dream job is to manage Liverpool.

As much as he is enjoying his time in Glasgow, if the chance came to manage Liverpool, Gerrard would jump at the opportunity.

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp seems reluctant to sign a new contract with the club with his current deal expiring in the summer of 2022. Were Liverpool to win the Premier League this season — which is inevitable — it wouldn’t surprise me to see Klopp walk away from the club and Gerrard’s name is sure to be high on a list of replacements, which is why this season could be his most important in management.

Gerrard is a club legend at Liverpool and would be many people’s first choice to replace Klopp when the German decides to leave but he has to win silverware with Rangers if he is to land his dream job.

If Gerrard fails to win a trophy during his time at Rangers then his time at the club will be seen as unsuccessful.

Yes, the team have improved under Gerrard and Rangers have that fear factor about them again but ultimately, the Gers won’t be satisfied until they win a major trophy again.

The Rangers’ board didn’t appoint Gerrard to finish second to Celtic — even I could manage the Gers to finish second — and questions will be asked of the former England international if Celtic win their tenth consecutive domestic trophy.

I think Gerrard has been an excellent appointment for the Gers and I’ve been particularly impressed by his managerial learning ability.

The way he has handled Rangers prized asset; Alfredo Morelos, has been a credit to Gerrard. Morelos is a wonderful player but last season, he was a liability to the team.

The Columbian was sent off on four occasions in the league and that cost them.

Most managers wouldn’t have kept faith with the striker and would have sold Morelos in the summer.

Gerrard backed himself and believed that he could find a way to manage his star player and control Morelos’s temper.

By altering Morelos and Jermaine Defoe in the team, it has shown the Columbian that he cannot afford to be missing games through suspension because he wouldn’t get back into the team when he is available for selection.

Gerrard has managed to keep both strikers happy and that clearly shows that the 39-year-old has excellent man-management skills, which for me, is the most important trait a manager can have.

All of those impressive attributes will stand to Gerrard when he does eventually try and manage in England but trophies are the most impressive element on a manager's Curriculum Vitae.

Unless Gerrard wins some silverware with the Gers, there will always be questions over whether he should ever be considered for his dream job as Liverpool manager. Gerrard will certainly be under more pressure than his counterpart Neil Lennon on Sunday.

When the sides met earlier in the season, all of the pressure was on Lennon but the Celtic manager outwitted Gerrard with his tactical masterclass and the Hoops dominated the Gers in their 2-0 victory at Ibrox in September.

Now, the roles have reversed and focus will be on Gerrard to come up with a game plan to show that he is a manager that can win the important games.

Lennon has surprised most people — maybe including himself — with how well he has done with the Hoops since taking over for his second spell in charge of the club.

Yes, there will be pressure on Lennon to continue Celtic’s trophy run but the club’s main aim this season will be to win the league and continue their hunt for an historic 10-in-a-row, whereas for Rangers, it is about winning some silverware this season.

Lennon proved first time round as Celtic manager that he is a shrewd man when it comes to the transfer market — most notably signing Virgil van Dijk for the Hoops in 2013 — and it seems the Northern Irishman has shown once again his eye for a player with some of the signings he made during the summer.

After an indifferent start to their Celtic careers, Christopher Jullien and Jermaine Frimpong are showing that they could be the next players high on potential suitors transfer wish list.

Fraser Forster was Lennon’s most important signing.

The importance of have a top-class goalkeeper is becoming more important and Foster has help shore up what was a vulnerable Celtic defence.

I’m surprised that Southampton let Forster leave because he is better than the goalkeepers currently at the Saints.

Lennon is at a different stage in his managerial career to Gerrard.

The Celtic manager has tried his luck in England and knows that it won’t get any better for him than managing the Hoops.

Gerrard is a young and up-and-coming manager with more ambition than managing Rangers but still has a lot to prove.

Sunday’s final will mean more to Gerrard and Rangers than Lennon and Celtic.

Gerrard needs to start winning trophies if he wants to people to seriously believe that he is someone capable of managing Liverpool.

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