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Rangers thank Steven Gerrard for leaving champions in ‘very healthy position’

Rangers v Aberdeen – Scottish Premiership – Ibrox Stadium
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Rangers stressed the positive legacy of Steven Gerrard after losing their manager to Aston Villa.

The Scottish champions now have the tough task of replacing someone who wrestled the title from Celtic’s grasp and lifted their profile outside Scotland.

Rangers’ next two games are a Premier Sports Cup semi-final against Hibernian on November 21 and a Europa League clash with Sparta Prague at Ibrox, which offers the potential chance to qualify for the knockout stages. They also face a title challenge from an improving Celtic side, who are four points behind the cinch Premiership leaders.

The timing of the move in the international break has at least given Rangers some leeway with the recruitment process.

Sporting director Ross Wilson will lead the hunt for a replacement and will have been prepared for the eventuality of Gerrard leaving with the former England captain being touted for several Premier League vacancies already this season.

The likes of Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Derek McInnes and Russell Martin, all former Ibrox players, have emerged among the bookmakers’ favourites.

However, a statement confirming Gerrard’s departure, which coincided with Villa’s announcement, made no mention of the process or of recruiting a new manager, or even who would take charge of the team with the backroom staff expected to depart.

Instead it focused on what Gerrard had achieved and left behind at Ibrox, stressing he had played a “key role in the significant growth of the Light Blues in numerous areas”.

The statement added: “Rangers now has an outstanding, highly competitive playing squad which is capable of both winning and entertaining on all fronts, with the highest of standards now also prevalent throughout the football department.

“In European competition, Rangers have qualified for group stage football for four successive seasons, and knockout-stage football in the last two, improving not only the club’s standing on the continent, but also that of Scottish football.”

Although Gerrard only won one out of nine available trophies in Scotland, Rangers declared they had “flourished” domestically with the culmination being their unbeaten league campaign.

Rangers chairman Douglas Park expressed his gratitude to Gerrard and added: “He has provided us all with some unforgettable moments, not least his delivery of the Scottish Premiership title back to Ibrox last season having not lost a match in the entire league campaign.

“In European competition, he has restored the good name and credibility of our club on the continent and leaves us in a very healthy position on the pitch.”

Wilson thanked Gerrard for his “work, dedication and professionalism” and added: “Steven and his backroom staff have ensured that the club is undoubtedly in a better place today than it was three-and-a-half years ago.

“I joined Steven on that journey just over two years ago and from the first day we met, I have enjoyed all aspects of our partnership.

“We have shared a desire to move Rangers forward, to modernise our infrastructure and to make the club win again.

“There have been so many areas that we have moved forward, and there is still so much to be done, but I can’t stress enough how important it has been to have with us a first-team manager who shared a drive and desire to set standards and move the whole football operation forward.”

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