Dubai: In a week of surprise announcements, one stands out as a nominee for the most bizarre of the decade.
Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery and Andres Iniesta all made public their decisions to depart Arsenal, Paris St-Germain and Barcelona, respectively.
No real surprises there, but news emerged on Wednesday that came so far out of left-field that it took almost everyone by surprise.
Steven Gerrard is the favourite to become manager of Scottish club Rangers at the end of the current season.
That’s Steve G. The Liverpool legend. And Rangers. The embryonic incarnation of the Ibrox club that was liquidated for financial dodginess in 2012.
The newly-formed club had to start from there bottom tier of Scottish football and have only recently made their way into the Premier League.
It is a match made in Dali-esque surreality.
Why on earth would Rangers, who publicly stated they are looking for someone with in-depth knowledge and experience of the Scottish game, even be considering Gerrard, a retired player with zero dugout experience.
He has played Scottish opponents for Liverpool and England only a handful of times. And that’s about it. He has been coaching with the Liverpool development squad since he retired in 2016. That is not much of a CV.
The only thing I can think of that could get the board at Ibrox to even consider this route as the option to replace Graeme Murty in the summer is to sell some season tickets.
But then how many pennies would be left from that venture after you off-set Gerrard and his backroom staff’s salaries?
Not much, and this is a club who are far from financially stable, given their recent run-ins with Her Majesty’s tax office and some extravagant and questionable splurges on players.
You would think Rangers would remember the failed experiment the last time an untried Liverpool legend came to a Glasgow dugout. John Barnes flopped spectacularly as Celtic manager in 1999.
For a first managerial job, the Rangers gig is all wrong for Stevie. He’s a rookie and the fans at Ibrox have unrealistic demands of success (think Arsenal but with the resources of Bolton).
Barnes was sacked after a disastrous season at Parkhead and never made it as a successful manager, instead he can be seen warming a seat on sports shows as a pundit.
That is not a career path Gerrard wants as he has often stated his dream to become a top coach.
Brendan Rodgers, the Celtic manager who worked with Gerrard at Liverpool, this week expressed his surprise at the link to Rangers. “When you’re starting out it’s all about when you feel the time is right,” Rodgers told the BBC before his side whipped the boys in blue 4-0 in the Scottish Cup, sending Rangers into dressing-room and back-page meltdown.
“It’s not necessarily about the club, it’s about the right club.”
He later added: “I was a little bit surprised when I saw it. If the speculation is right then maybe Stevie feels it is the right club.
“He’s always wanted to be a manager. I know from my time working closely with him at Liverpool that it was something he always wanted to do.
“He’s lived with expectation all his life at Liverpool and as the captain of England.”
Then there is the ugly side of Glasgow football. Gerrard is Catholic and that, sadly, still doesn’t sit well with some knuckle-draggers that follow Rangers. The blue side of Glasgow is staunchly Protestant, while the green side is Catholic. It shouldn’t be a factor in this day and age, but social media means anonymous vile abuse is at its peak.
When Neil Lennon, who is from the mostly Protestant Northern Ireland took over at Celtic, he was given death threats and even sent bullets in the mail to his home address.
On the pitch, Gerrard’s lack of experience will mean failure as the club hunt trophies in an environment where Celtic sweep the board consistently, they are on the brink of a historic double-treble of League, League Cup and Scottish Cup, and are about to be crowned seven-time consecutive league champions (ironically, they will win the title if they beat Rangers on Sunday).
An appointment like Gerrard at Rangers will only help Celtic edge towards the coveted 10-in-a-row.
If he has any sense, professionally and personally, Gerrard will walk away from this insanity as it is destined to go horribly wrong.