The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Gerrard will have Souness effect in bid to retain title, insists Ferguson

- By Fraser Mackie

IAN FERGUSON suspects the very last position Ibrox recruitmen­t staff need to source before deadline day is a motivation­al speaker.

He would happily offer his own services but, when you bring 10 Scottish top-flight medals to the table, the chat can be kept brief.

Fortunatel­y, Ferguson has seen enough to recognise that, under Steven Gerrard, Rangers have the ideal figurehead to ensure a remarkable 2020/21 season is no one-off.

The former Ibrox midfielder feels Gerrard’s influence will help the current champions accumulate more title medals — just like Ferguson did when following the Graeme Souness gospel.

Ferguson admits Souness got inside his head. Not least every time he signed a new midfielder and the ferociousl­y competitiv­e former

St Mirren man improved another notch.

Now Ferguson wants

Gerrard to have a similar effect in making players hellbent on not giving

Celtic a look-in as they attempt to wrest back the crown.

The title will be defended with their lives, Gerrard has insisted. His men must switch mentality from hunter to hunted and the language of 55 must be forgotten.

Ferguson explained: ‘The players must understand they cannot be one-hit wonders. The great thing is Rangers have a guy in charge who wants to win constantly.

‘Because they’re going to need to be strong of mind, mentally and physically, ready for what’s about to hit them.

‘They have bigger targets on their back. Everyone wants to beat Rangers anyway. It’s different now as champions, so it’s down to how they handle that.

‘There’s big pressure to qualify for the Champions League. There’s a lot of money at stake — there always was. It’s another test. They have to want to go for two, three in a row, more.

‘Graeme Souness’s speeches on what he wanted from players — and what he wanted for Rangers — were a massive part of driving the club through a successful era.

‘It gives me goosebumps now thinking about inspiring quotes reminding you it was your responsibi­lity to take Rangers forward. For me, it was great

the manager made clear the expectatio­n. You realised if you followed him, you wouldn’t go far wrong.

‘It was the same after Graeme, with Walter Smith.

‘I remember after Celtic won in 1988, we had two weeks at home training at Bellahoust­on Park. Not much was said.

‘Then in Il Ciocco, in Italy, Souness gathered us in the middle of the pitch to state in no uncertain terms what he wanted from us.

‘Second best wasn’t for Rangers, he said, so if you couldn’t handle the pressure and didn’t like it then you shouldn’t be there.

‘And if the strip was too heavy for you, he said, don’t wear it, we only want people here who are going to carry that strip. I’m sure that Gerrard will preach exactly the same.’

Ferguson also won three Scottish Cups and five League Cup medals with Rangers. He admits that wouldn’t have been possible — all the way to helping Dick Advocaat to a Treble — without feeling his place was always under review.

Now he hopes new boys like Zambian striker Fashion Sakala and John Lundstram spark those feelings in Gerrard’s camp.

Ferguson said: ‘Everyone should feel under threat at Rangers. I felt it was always my place — every summer.

‘John Brown, Stuart McCall, Nigel Spackman, Paul Gascoigne, Rino Gattuso. You always think: Is he in for me?

‘It taught me to always try harder, train harder, play harder. That’s the only way I stayed there so long.

‘I had to match or be better than them every day. I was never going to give up my spot easily.’

Players must understand they can’t be one-hit wonders

 ??  ?? MEDAL HAUL: ex-Ranger Ian Ferguson
MEDAL HAUL: ex-Ranger Ian Ferguson

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom