Steven Gerrard has admitted he has missed the buzz of the huge games played at Anfield, Liverpool, when he arrived as the new rookie Glasgow Rangers manager.
He wanted the match nerve feelings and the adrenaline rush of many high pressured victories, and the great news is that on Thursday night, he felt that concoction of emotions once again.
It wasn’t just the best night of his time in the dugout, it was one of the most memorable of his glittering career. As he got a glimpse of the future at Ibrox, Gerrard rolled back the years.
On the touchline on Thursday, the Rangers boss kicked every ball and he appealed enthusiastically for every foul and corner kick. When the goals went in, the way he celebrated them said it all.
The 3-1 win was probably the finest overall performance his side have produced this season and the Ibrox crowd responded as the noise levels reached an ear-deafening crescendo.
The Rangers fans were unbelievable throughout, especially when Alfredo Morelos scored his two goals and for James Tavernier’s late penalty.
“That was up there with the best atmospheres I’ve played in, whether it be at Anfield or other stadiums,” Gerrard said, according to The Times.
“That was right up there alongside them. That noise last night was incredible; it was ‘wow’. It was special.
“I was blessed as a player to have had that at Anfield for many, many years, we had many of those nights on a European level and sometimes domestically as well.
“Last night: that’s what I came to Rangers for. I want to be involved in European games and I want my players to be involved in those games because that’s what this club is about, big nights under the lights. It was an incredible game.
“Rapid Vienna were really good within the game, they played well. At half-time we thought ‘wow, if we get another half like that, what a game’.
“I said to the players ‘just don’t be on the wrong side of the result because it will be a tough one to take’.”
Personally, I thought the atmosphere at Ibrox, especially in the last ten minutes as Rangers chased the winner, was a throwback to the golden years of the European nights the fans got used to.
It’s been a long time since the supporters created that kind of noise, or had a result like that to celebrate as the Gers moved to the top of Group G.
“The players deserve all the praise, from the first whistle to the last, we were immense. Every player was top class,” Gerrard went on to say.
“In a short space of time, to deliver a performance like that is impressive. It’s probably come a bit quicker than I thought but that’s what I’ve been looking for in terms of a 90-minute performance.
“It’s a different game [against Hearts], it’s a daytime game, a domestic game against Hearts.
“It’s a very important game for us, a massive three points, but I don’t think we can try and compare it to Thursday night because it will be different.
“But, yeah, we want Ibrox to be rocking again. We want a strong atmosphere but the team have to play their part in that.
“The challenge is can you match it or get close to that performance again. If we do, I think we will get the result we want.
“We are getting there. Over the course of the 90 minutes, that performance against Rapid is what we have been looking for.
“We were strong in every department and every player deserved praise from within that performance.
“If we can find that consistently, not just at Ibrox, it will give us a better chance of competing on the fronts we are involved in.
“I’m really pleased for the players, they deserved the credit because they went out and carried out our instructions.
“My job as their manager is to get that out of them more consistently. How do you do that? You have to manage them individually. You have to know when to push and prod and then to sit back.
“Every player is different. I would manage Connor Goldson differently to Glenn Middleton.
“I know they are all capable, I know it’s in there. If they can all deliver on an individual basis, then it’s going to help the team.
“I had a pretty good idea. If the pressure’s not on Celtic, it’s on Rangers. If it’s not on Rangers, it’s on Celtic.
“That’s the way it’s been up here for many, many years and it’s not going to change.
“From a neutral point of view it’s probably welcome the likes of Hearts have started the season very strong, and Livingston doing very well.
“It makes the league very exciting for a neutral, but from my point of view it’s important that if we perform like [Thursday] night that I give the right praise out, because it’s deserved, but don’t go over the top and don’t get carried away.
“At the same time if the players have a day off, like Livingston, it’s important I don’t go and crucify them or get too emotional and react negatively too much. It’s just getting the right balance.”