One million reasons why Stevie can’t catch Bhoys...
Hartson believes Gerrard will make a difference but says Gers won’t make up the ‘million miles’ to Parkhead side
FORMER Celtic striker John Hartson has insisted that Rangers supporters are right to get excited about the arrival of Steven Gerrard – but has warned that the Ibrox side are “a million miles” away from catching Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Rangers took the number of new additions to six yesterday as they look to revamp the side ahead of the new campaign. By contrast, Celtic have been quiet since clinching the double Treble, with news of the stadium developments at the club offering the only real indication of work going on behind the scenes.
Hartson, though, believes that the arrival of Gerrard may raise the bar at Rangers – but will do the same across the city.
“I think Celtic will step up to the challenge,” said the Welshman. “Brendan will get them in and say, ‘look, last two years we’ve been up against a poor Rangers. Stevie will improve them, now is the acid test and we need to go again’.”
Gerrard’s arrival has galvanised the Ibrox support who are looking for something special from the former Liverpool captain. Hartson, too, anticipates Gerrard getting a reaction – “I don’t think he has ever failed at anything in his life” – but he has warned that the gap which currently exists is too wide to narrow overnight.
“There’s not a cat in hell’s chance that Rangers will catch Celtic as they are a million miles away on and off the park,” he said.
“If Brendan Rodgers let that happen it would be a travesty in my opinion.
“Celtic are double Treble winners with £50million of Champions League money and they have assets.
“I’m intrigued how it will play out – the Celtic fans are waiting on signings.
“The Rangers fans are excited with the feelgood factor around the club which they haven’t had for a while.
“They have a class act in Steven Gerrard coming into the club and this will raise the level of everyone’s game when he walks i n the dressing room.
“He’s a magnificent person and knows what he wants as he’s very focused.
“If Rangers finish 10 behind Celtic, it’s a success. If they can beat Celtic once and maybe win a cup then that would be looked at as progress.
“If you look at how far behind they have been in terms of quality of player and off the park it’s huge.”
This time a year ago, Pedro Caixinha was in the midst of a recruitment drive at Ibrox with similar levels of anticipation from the Rangers support. Hartson was scathing in his assessment of Caixinha’s reign but has maintained that Gerrard has more currency and credibility.
“This time last year when Caixinha was signing all those players the fans were getting excited then as well, weren’t they?” he said. “They were thinking, ‘we’ve brought in Bruno Alves at centrehalf. Cor, what a player he is.’ At 34 he looks like an old man – my dad could have played there and done better. He’s like an old man limping onto the pitch.
“He’s got great experience, yeah, but don’t sign a guy knocking on 35 to deal with Dembele and Griffiths. What chance you got?
“So this time last season Rangers fans were getting a bit excited. Caixinha was coming in with the dogs and caravans and all this sort of stuff and people were saying, ‘this guy is great, this guy is a character.’
“But the main difference this season is that Steven Gerrard has come in and he’s a class act. It looks like he is signing decent players and Rangers fans can get excited, absolutely.
“But I still feel they have a long way to go.
“It’s the mentality thing too as it’s not been right at Rangers. The 4-0 thumping in the Scottish Cup, the 5-0 when Celtic won the league. It was men against boys. Embarrassing.
“It was like a testimonial game against a bunch of 40-year-old men. That’s how poor it was.
“It’s about Stevie going in there adding to the quality of the group and making sure new players settle and looking to catch Celtic.
“But as I said “Look at what Caixinha did – how on earth did he get to sign players, It’s bizarre.
“If the man who allowed that to happen is still in a job, it’s bizarre.
“How could he get to sign the players on the wages they are on? It’s almost ruined the football club.
“I’m interested to see how it all plays out.”
Hartson is currently in the frame for the vacant post at Livingston and has applauded the decision by Rangers to go for Gerrard, despite his lack of managerial experience.
The Welshman was scathing of those such who have milked the managerial circuit for the last few decades south of the border.
“Stevie Gerrard coming to your club is a good appointment, although he has not had much experience. But the only way you get good experience is by going in.
“There is no guarantee with experience. Look at the clubs who appointed experience over the years who fell flat on their face.
“Frank Lampard is fresh, young with new ideas. Everybody is sick of the [Sam] Allardyces and [ Alan] Pardews and Peter Reids – it used to be Brian Robson and Micky Adams and these guys.
“They get four or five different jobs, get sacked then go to another job.
“Ian Dowie has been sacked from eight clubs. He’s made more money from getting the sack than he has made from being in employment.
“It’s ridiculous. Appoint young, fresh people who want to get in and want to learn. You see Sam Allardyce on the touchline like that.... (mimics chewing gum)...’sack me if you want....’
“Do me a favour. What chairman appoints these guys?”
John Hartson was donating a £20,000 cheque from his Foundation to the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity’s Schiehallion Appeal. The appeal has now gone through the £1million barrier.
John Hartson is all smiles with a fan at Glasgow Children’s Hospital yesterday as he handed over a £20,000 cheque from his charity foundation
Gers manager Steven Gerrard arrives at Ibrox yesterday