Steven Gerrard and Rangers would seem a marriage as ill-suited as Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley.
A fledgling coach, with mere months of experience of his post-playing career behind him, and one of British football’s historic institutions floundering in the dirt, seeking desperately for the legitimacy it lost when melting down in 2012: what could possibly go wrong?
Gerrard’s competitive experience of football in Scotland extends to playing at Celtic for Liverpool in the UEFA Cup in 2003. He has recently been seen in the Ibrox directors’ box, where Dave King, the Rangers majority shareholder who also supports Liverpool, had presumably invited him.
Gerrard cannot be accused of shirking a challenge if he takes this on. His ultimate aim is to stop Celtic reaching ten titles in a row, to forge past that record of nine consecutive titles that the Old Firm share.
Last week’s derby dissolution of Rangers took Celtic to seven.
In Glasgow, anyone involved with either club will always have history on their shoulders, and Rangers, despite their lack of budget compared to their rivals in the city’s East End are nothing like a development opportunity, a safe haven or cottage industry in which a young manager can work out his coaching and motivational philosophy.
Even when Rangers, having reformed, were ploughing their way up the lower divisions, Scottish football remained a two-party state. Gerrard, someone who has talked frequently of suffering in the goldfish bowl of Merseyside life, where red and blue demand his attention, may find he was previously living in an ocean of calm compared to what awaits him in Glasgow.
Any quick glance through Scottish newspapers will find the very minutiae of goings on at either club picked over with a finer tooth comb than Detective Chief Inspector Taggart ever investigated murders with.
There can be no hiding places. When Rangers arrived back in the Scottish Premiership in the summer of 2016, the club’s official Twitter account trailed the next season with “#goingfor55”, a demand to end a five-year drought with a league title for a newly promoted club. No pressure there, then, for then-manager Mark Warburton, who lasted barely six more months.
Pedro Caixinha, Warburton’s “permanent” successor lasted just 229 days. A title next season for Celtic would take them to a half-century, worryingly close to Rangers, again placing that pressure of history against a manager of the Light Blues.
Gerrard is a rather different figure than either Warburton or Caixinha, both who found their way to Glasgow from football’s fringes. Liverpool’s greatest midfielder of the 21st century is footballing royalty, but is he suited to such a challenge?
The downbeat, often morose character that took reluctant part in post-match TV interviews and has lately forged a media career has the necessary dourness for Glaswegian life, but is that a such boon on the modern-day training ground?
Not that media excellence is any guide to being a future managerial great judging by Gary Neville’s disaster at Valencia but Gerrard’s former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers exudes positive vibes at Celtic and a commitment to bright, attacking football. He also has vastly more experience in managing both players and the expectations of boardroom executives than the former ally he might be pitted against.
Gerrard as a player was never considered as either a great thinker or talker.
He led by example of being Liverpool’s best player, someone capable of great match-winning feats, and had others likes Jamie Carragher to do the actual talking and organisation.
Perhaps, as fellow former Liverpool captain Graeme Souness did in taking over at Ibrox in the summer of 1986 and appointing Walter Smith as his assistant, he could counterbalance himself with a wiser, more experienced head.
But even that may not be enough. He would be arriving at a club not only weighed down by a glorious past but that of disgrace, too. Slowly, the health of Rangers is reviving but still it lives off the fumes of directors’ loans.
The meagre rewards of football north of the border are not enough to sustain the economics of trying to catch up with Celtic, who have banked Champions League group-stage money and now operate on double the budget of Rangers.
And judging by the repeated embarrassments handed out in a 9-0 aggregate scoreline over the clubs’ two recent meetings, an overhaul of playing personnel is desperately required.
The cachet of working with Gerrard is mooted as one of the attractions of his potential involvement but it takes more than that to attract players these days. Souness, and three decades ago, was working with the biggest budget in Britain and able to attract England internationals, while certain clubs in England’s League One offer similar money to Rangers.
So, what then, is the sense behind Gerrard and Rangers? The simple answer appears to be a collision of opportunity, with Gerrard aware Jurgen Klopp rules the roost at Anfield and Rangers scrabbling for something, just anything. It does not look like much of a basis for future success.