London (AFP) – Rangers on Friday confirmed former Liverpool and England midfielder Steven Gerrard as their new manager, announcing he would join the Scottish Premiership club this summer on a four-year deal.
Gerrard, who has previously only worked with Liverpool’s Under-18s, faces a daunting task in trying to compete with Old Firm rivals Celtic, who have just sealed their seventh consecutive title.
“I am honoured to become the next manager of Rangers,” the 37-year-old said in a statement on the club’s website. “I have enormous respect for this football club, and its history and tradition.
“I can’t wait to start this new journey at Rangers as we look to build on the many successes that this club has achieved.”
Chairman Dave King said: “From the very beginning, talks have been extremely positive and we believe that Steven is the right man to drive Rangers forward.
“He was extremely impressive throughout our negotiations and we are convinced that he has the necessary knowledge and temperament to lead the club to the success we all desire.”
Gerrard was an inspirational captain and Champions League winner in a 17-year career at Anfield but as a managerial rookie he faces a huge challenge to unseat Celtic, who sealed the title on Sunday with a 5-0 thumping of Rangers.
He also faces the challenge of outfoxing his former manager at Liverpool in Celtic’s Brendan Rodgers.
The arrival of the former England captain will restore some star power to a league that has found it increasingly hard to attract and hold onto top players against the booming television revenues of the Premier League.
Rangers are still recovering from the fallout of their liquidation in 2012 and subsequent demotion to the fourth tier of Scottish football.
In their second season back in the top flight, Rangers trail Celtic by 13 points, and are locked in a battle with Aberdeen and Hibernian just to finish second.
Rangers fans excited by the prospect of Gerrard’s arrival have cited his stature as aiding the Ibrox club’s ability to recruit a better quality player in what is expected to be a busy transfer window.
But the club still have to overcome a huge financial disparity with Celtic. Bolstered by revenue from the Champions League, Celtic’s £90 million ($122 million) turnover last year was three times that of their Old Firm rivals.
Caretaker manager Graeme Murty, who had been promoted from his role as the club’s under-20 coach, was sacked this week after six months in charge.