Since taking over the Ibrox hotseat in June, Rangers’ showdown with Celtic on Sunday was Steven Gerrard’s first experience of the Old Firm.
Extra spice was added to the fact that Brendan Rodgers, was Gerrard’s last boss at Liverpool.
Gerrard, and every Rangers fan, has blamed referee William Collum for the loss of the long unbeaten record.
The ‘Gers faltered 1-0 when Olivier Ntcham scored the all-important 62nd minute winner.
The goal should never have stood as Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack was fouled in the Celtic half of the field, and whistler Collum refused to put the whistle to his mouth – shocking!
In fairness, Celtic were the better team on the day and dominated much of the encounter.
Rangers didn’t have many chances; Celtic hit the woodwork on four occasions. Goalkeeper Allan McGregor was his usual excellent self, enabling the Light Blues to keep the score down.
Since Gerrard has arrived at Ibrox, you can easily see the difference. He has totally transformed his team into winners, and Celtic now have real competition for silverware this season.
He seems to have built a Rangers team mirroring his own image. Against Ufa of Russia, the ‘Gers had two sending offs and it’s becoming repetitive that Rangers lose a man early in a game then still deliver a result.
Gerrard admits, “I’m a great believer that individual clubs have their own mentality that goes beyond managers and at Rangers the ethos has always been hard work, determination and grit.
Of course they love great football, but first and foremost you need to have a really strong mentality, and the managers Rangers have had recently have not installed that.”
Gerrard has changed the entire mentality of the club, and most impressively he has rearranged, reorganised and refocused the defence, and are a different proposition now.
As a player all too familiar with the emotion attached to a Merseyside Derby, Gerrard’s first defeat may be criticised by some. A disappointment – yes, but no disaster.