Football/Soccer

Kenny Archer: Steven Gerrard should pull out of risky Rangers challenge

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and manager Brendan Rodgers could meet again as rivals in Glasgow if 'Stevie G' takes the Rangers job.

THERE'S a certain logic to Steven Gerrard tackling the Rangers job.

Early in his playing career (and occasionally late on), he had a tendency to launch himself into ridiculous challenges that he was never going to win, which would only end in embarrassment or dismissal for himself.

So why not start your managerial career in the same way?

Asked and answered.

Someone at Liverpool obviously sat Gerrard down as a young player and warned him that he would only get himself a bad reputation if he continued with such a reckless attitude. He might even end his own career and those of a few other players.

Someone at Liverpool should do him the same favour now with regard to his incipient managerial career.

Alan Shearer suggested that the question of whether or not 'Stevie G' should take the manager's post at Ibrox was 'a no-brainer'.

That's a phrase with a double meaning, though, particularly in these circumstances.

Shearer's view is clearly driven by the same logic that led to him taking on the Newcastle United job - which ended in relegation. The only consolation is that Rangers won't go down, at least not due to on-pitch results.

"He'll be able to attract bigger players because of who he is and what he brings to the football club," said Shearer.

"Wherever he goes, people will follow because he's such a huge name."

Really? Shearer did at least add some sensible notes of caution: "It's a big 'if' because there are no guarantees but if everything is put in place and he is promised funds - and I'm pretty sure if he accepts they would have to deliver what they have promised to him - I think it's a no-brainer for him,"

It's not just a big 'if', it's huge, humongous.

To say that Rangers is not a well-run club, and hasn't been for many years, is the under-statement of this century, or any one as far back as the 17th.

Although it may sound like one of those outdated 'Paddy' jokes, BBC Scotland's Tom English, who's actually an Irishman, and an excellent journalist too, wrote those words after Celtic shellacked Rangers 5-0 on Sunday:

'As a youth-team coach with zero experience of life in senior management and precious little know-how in trying to handle a big beast like Rodgers…'

He was actually referring to Rangers caretaker boss Graeme Murty – who, he added, 'has done just about as well as could have been expected', only to be sacked yesterday anyway – but that description could equally apply to Gerrard.

The idea that a novice manager could take on and beat Celtic and Rodgers is laughable. It's only a punch-line, the quip that Gerrard is 'the man to stop Brendan Rodgers winning a title', referring to Liverpool's second place finish in 2013/4.

Steven Gerrard will always be associated with a slip. One of the Freudian variety occurred in a headline to a Press Association story earlier this week about his link with Rangers:

'Seven Gerrard needs assurances over Rangers resources', it declared.

Yep. 'Seven'. The same number of consecutive titles that Celtic have won, the latest collected after a humiliating 5-0 hammering of the Gers.

That typo was quickly corrected, but getting Rangers right and ready to seriously challenge Celtic will take much, much longer.

It's not impossible that Rangers could prevent Celtic winning an unprecedented 10 titles running (both clubs have completed nine-in-a-row) but it is highly unlikely.

Even if Rangers do get their own house in order Celtic are merely getting stronger.

The gulf in class is only likely to grow larger, unless Rangers are suddenly bought over by a rich and generous benefactor.

You never know in football, of course, but such opinion is based on facts. Numbers, to be precise.

Last year's financial returns showed that Celtic's revenue had increased to a record high for the club of more than £90m.

That might only buy you an over-hyped often under-performing French midfielder if you're the biggest club in England, but it makes Celtic the biggest club in Scotland by several country miles.

To put that figure into perspective, it's more than three times Rangers' income of £29m, six times that of Aberdeen (£15m), and more than eight times that of Hearts (£11m).

Celtic aren't just the big fish in a small pond, they're the shark in a goldfish bowl.

Some further perspective: Celtic turned a small profit of £6.9m in that last financial year. Hearts were £2.3m in the black. Most other Scottish Premiership clubs broke even or made fairly small losses.

With one notable exception – and you're not getting any price or prize for guessing which one that was.

Rangers recorded a deficit of £6.7m.

It doesn't appear that they're learning any lessons at Ibrox. Living beyond their means was what got Rangers into the hole that they've taken years to climb out of.

In 2011, before their demotion to the Scottish fourth tier, Rangers' (official) wage bill was just over £30m, close to Celtic's £32.7m.

Last year Celtic's was three times bigger, at £52.2m compared to £17.6m for Rangers.

That's the real pulling power, not a manager's name, not even one as big as Steven Gerrard.

Just as Celtic fall further away financially from more and more English clubs, so the rest of Scotland is slipping into the rear view mirror of the Bhoys.

Domestic dominance doesn't give Celtic much more money than their rivals, but it does earn them the golden ticket into the Champions League.

In 2016/17, Celtic's TV/prize money from Europe's premier club competition equated to £27m; in other words, almost as much as Rangers' entire income for that year. It was also almost £10m than the Scottish TV money total (of £17.5m) and almost 10 times Celtic's share of that (£2.8m).

Only one club involved in the Europa League that season earned more than Celtic's £27m, the eventual winners Manchester United, largely because of the TV appeal of English clubs.

The Champions League is where it's at, where you need be – and Celtic are the only Scottish club with a chance of being there for the foreseeable future.

You don't need to have a head, or a brain, for figures to calculate the slim chances of overtaking Celtic without a drastic change in those financial circumstances.

Gerrard would be well-advised to always have Hadrian's Wall in his rear view mirror, staying south of that border and well clear of Glasgow's Blues.

Otherwise he's merely heading for another embarrassing fall.

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