Was 2018/19 a success or merely just a step in the right direction for Steven Gerrards’ Rangers?

Steven Gerrards appointment at Rangers in May of last year brought a fair amount of anticipation to Ibrox. This was the Liverpool legends first job in senior management and so there was doubt from all over the country of his ability to steady the ship at Rangers.

Gerrard’s first professional game as manager of Glasgow Rangers came against Macedonian side FC Shkupi in the first round of an impressive Europa League campaign where the hosts ran out 2-0 winners, Gerrard would guide Rangers through all 4 rounds of the qualifying campaign unbeaten against FC Shkupi, Osijek, Maribor and finally FC Ufa. This was an excellent achievement for Steven Gerrard and Rangers as they reached their first European group stage since 2010/11 season.

Domestically however things were not going so well for the Ibrox club, the league was once again lost to bitter city rivals Celtic as a result of points being dropped to teams that Rangers should have seen off. Defeats at the hands of Kilmarnock, Aberdeen, and newly promoted Livingston were a big factor as well as dropping points to, Hibernian, Motherwell and Dundee. Despite Rangers finally tasting success against Celtic twice it wasn’t quite enough as they finished 9 points behind their rivals.

If you were to ask me if this season was a success for Rangers I’d have to say it wasn’t, the season was a great step in the right direction both on and off the pitch, however having won nothing in Scotland reaching Hampden only once isn’t anywhere near enough to call this season a success at a club like this.

I do feel that Rangers have the resources to strengthen this summer and achieve domestic success next season and potentially go further in Europe, only time will tell for Rangers but this season was definitely a statement of intent to the rest of Scotland that Rangers are back.

Why Celtic don’t need to buy a Scott Sinclair replacement.

When Scott Sinclair arrived in Glasgow in 2016 he became an instant hit with the Celtic fans scoring the winner in a 2-1 win on the opening day against Hearts. On the exact same day he was announced. Over the course of his first season at Celtic Park Sinclair continued to transform into some what of a hero scoring 21 league goals and laying on another 7 adding on to numerous G+A in the domestic cups. 

But now we are approaching the third season since the former Man City winger had his elementary season with the Scottish League Champions and his love from the Celtic fans is fading away as he now plays second fiddle to Johnny Hayes, a 31 year old Irish winger.

Due to a clause in Sinclair’s contract, Scott is now being paid £40k to warm the bench at Parkhead, meaning, albeit it isn’t his fault, he has fell even further down Celtic fans affection list.  This contract means that on what looks like his final year at Celtic, he will be being paid the largest wage in the whole of Scottish football. Something that won’t look attractive on Celtic’s wage bill. 

Scott Sinclair’s decadence has not been something that’s been difficult to spot after his debut year. Turning from a 20+ goal winger who strikes fear into the hearts of every teams full back and their fans to being a player that brings relief when seeing his name on the Celtic team sheet.

At Celtic, wingers have in recent history, never been a position where they are short of. As under contract right now the club have 7 (seven) first team wingers, excluding Oli Burke who has just returned to West Brom from his hardly impressive loan spell. This is the reason why Celtic should not look for a ‘Sinclair replacement’. 

The main player who should be seen as Sinclair’s successor is Michael Johnston, a 20 year old Scottish left midfielder who has scored 5 goals in 7 starts this year, only one less than this seasons Young Player of The Year and Team of The Season left midfielder Ryan Kent – who made 18 more starts. Johnston also averaged goal every 136 minutes over the course of the season. 

In January, Celtic recruited another winger, Maryan Shved from Ukrainian side Karpaty Lviv. Although the standard may not translate from Ukraine to Scotland the attacker is quite evidently talented. Scoring 14 in 24 with his side in Ukraine and contributing to 3 assists. 

This Sunday, coincidentally in a 2-1 win against Hearts, 16 year old wonder-kid, born in 2003, Karamoko Dembele made his first team debut for Celtic becoming the youngest ever player to have played for Celtic. The talent played a 30 minute cameo and showed signs that he has the talent people are raving about. If implemented correctly Karamoko could be a Sinclair replacement for years to come, free of charge. 

Another upside of not buying a replacement winger is that the staggering £40,000 Celtic pay Sinclair may be added to improving areas that are more barren, perhaps a Boyata replacement due to the defender heading to the Bundesliga or finally a new right back.