The future's bright for Steven Gerrard's Rangers

Gerrard Rangers

Four SPL defeats all season

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is one of the latest footballers to throw himself into the managerial game. Taking the reigns at Rangers last summer, the 38-year-old has enjoyed a hugely successful tenure in charge of the Ibrox outfit so far and with the club currently sat second in the SPL - behind leaders Celtic by just six points - Rangers are in real contention of clinching their first league title since 2010-11.

Celtic once again find themselves in pole position to win their eighth successive league title, however with Gerrard's men hot on their heels and playing some fantastic football this time out, we could well see an upset on the cards come April. Just four defeats in the league all season has seen Rangers become one of the most consistent sides in the division this term, with their latest result coming in the form of a convincing 4-0 win at home to St Mirren on Saturday afternoon.

Steven Gerrard's side have been extremely tough to break down this season, conceding just 18 goals in their 24 outings so far. The Gers have kept nine clean sheets in the SPL, with two of those coming in their most recent two matches against Livingston and St Mirren, highlighting just how much Gerrard has tightened up their defence since arriving at the club six months ago.

Gerrard is getting the best out of his squad

Players like right-back James Tavernier have been especially impressive this season; his performances gained him interest from the likes of Southampton in the recent January transfer window and with 11 goals and 14 assists from defence this season (all competitions) it's clear to see why. The 28-year-old has always been a solid player for Rangers, however under the guidance of Gerrard he's really starting to kick on a make a name for himself in Scotland.

Alfredo Morelos is another player who has really stood out for Rangers this season. The Columbian front man has bagged a hugely impressive 21 goals so far (all competitions) and has been the difference at Ibrox this time around. Like Tavernier, the 22-year-old enjoyed a relatively successful season last time out but has really flourished under Steven Gerrard this term. Morelos is a key player for the Scottish titans, but with clubs like Nice and Galatasaray reportedly interested in capturing his signature last month it looks as though Rangers will have a job on their hands if they're to retain their prized asset in the summer.

Former Burnley man Scott Arfield has taken to life north of the border extremely well since arriving in the summer. The Canadian international saw playing time limited towards the back end of his tenure at Turf Moor but has been reborn at Rangers under Steven Gerrard. Arfield has six goals and four assists to his name in all competitions this season; the 30-year-old is flourishing in a more central role at Ibrox this term and it's massively helping Rangers in their title challenge.

Morelos
Alfredo Morelos is the SPL's top scorer this season with 13 goals to his name.

Attracting top quality players capable of a title challenge

The main thing Steven Gerrard has done since joining Rangers is massively improve the club's recruitment department. The former England midfielder is one of the most well known players in world football and because of this players want to play under him, which leads to the club attracting a more high-profile calibre of signing - Bournemouth loanee Jermain Defoe, for instance.

Defoe linked up with Gerrard last month in what looks to be the signing of the season. The 36-year-old has been one of the Premier League's most prolific goalscorers throughout the past 15 years and will have a field day in the much less demanding Scottish Premier League.

The former Tottenham forward has already scored two goals in his first three appearances for the Gers and was on the scoresheet in Saturday's encounter with St Mirren, netting a late penalty to put his new side three goals to the good against the Saints. Defoe is only at Ibrox because of Gerrard - that's obvious - and for as long as his tenure in Scotland lasts, players of a similar calibre will continue to head north to play under him.

Southampton's Steven Davis is another fantastic addition; the 34-year-old midfielder made over 130 appearances for Rangers throughout a four-year period between 2008-2012, before signing for Southampton and has now re-joined the club on loan until the end of the campaign.

Davis became surplus to requirements at Saints due to a change in management this season, however still has a great deal to offer in the SPL when he regains match fitness. Fans of the club haven't been too impressed with him in his first three appearances back at Ibrox, however there's no doubting that when he gets back up to speed and settles back into his new role in the heart of Rangers' midfield, he'll once more be a real asset to the club.

Defoe Rangers
Jermain Defoe has scored two goals in his first three games for Rangers.

Memorable night at the Estadio de la Cerámica

The feel good factor at Rangers isn't just down to their performance in the league this term, but a memorable campaign in the Europa League also gave fans something to smile about. Although they bowed out of the competition in December after finishing third in Group G, Gerrard's invigorated side ran La Liga giants Villarreal right down to the wire away from home in September, twice coming from a goal behind to nick a point at the Estadio de la Cerámica.

This tie wasn't about the result however, the odds were always stacked against them, it was about treating the fans to a memorable away day and putting in a spirited performance; a performance that the Ibrox faithful would have been proud of and that's exactly what they did. It's been years since the club even qualified for the group stages of the Europa League, but under Steven Gerrard they managed this at the first time of asking, beating sides like KF Shkupi, NK Osijek, FK UFA (yeah me neither) and Maribor to get there.

Rangers are also second favourites to lift the Scottish Cup this term after a 3-1 win over Cowdenbeath in their first round tie last week. Celtic are the obvious front-runners, however with their involvement in the Europa League it could take its toll on their exploits in the SFA Cup. If Gerrard could end the season with a trophy to show for his efforts in his first season at the helm, that would be a fantastic achievement regardless to whether or not they manage to beat Celtic to the title.

Rangers to win the Scottish Cup

william_hill

RANGERS TO WIN THE SCOTTISH CUP @ 9/2

Exciting times ahead

Whatever happens at Rangers this season, the progression they have shown under Steven Gerrard has not only lifted the spirits at Ibrox, but the belief that they are now extremely close to bridging the gap between Celtic and are capable of seriously challenging for the SPL for the first time in almost a decade.

The club have undergone a huge transition under the 38-year-old's guidance and this is only just the start. Players of real quality will continue to join the club should Gerrard remain in charge, which will slowly but surely ensure Rangers a league title within the forthcoming seasons - potentially even this year.

Celtic have dominated proceedings in the SPL for the previous eight years and it's made the league a dull spectacle from everyone else's point of view - even Celtic fans would probably agree that they have been bored without a real challenge on their hands. This season though something is different, the league has been more exciting thanks to a fresh-looking Rangers side constantly chasing Celtic and it's exactly what Scottish football as a whole desperately needed.

With the table so tight at the minute, and one more Old Firm derby still to take place in April, there really is everything to play for. Aberdeen are also hot on the heels of Rangers in third place and the two sides meet on Wednesday night in a huge match which will certainly have a determining effect on Steven Gerrard's title hopes.

It's all going on in Scotland at the moment, and we're extremely excited about it all.


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