ECLIPSING the “Miracle of Istanbul”, as Liverpool’s epic Champions League victory over AC Milan back in 2005 has become known, was always going to be difficult if not impossible for Steven Gerrard.
However, the former Reds captain, who helped his home town club come from three goals down at half-time and then triumph on penalties in the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, believes he may now be on the brink of matching the achievement.
Gerrard has always been reluctant to talk about the prospect of Rangers winning their first Scottish title in 10 years in recent months despite the Ibrox club holding a substantial lead over Celtic in the Premiership table.
And when his old Anfield team mate Robbie Fowler asked him about what lifting the first league title of his career and his first trophy as a manager would feel like on The Robbie Fowler Podcast yesterday he once again erred on the side of caution.
“There is still a lot of hard work to do,” he said. “There are still big hurdles to get over and I would never disrespect the challenge or get carried away before it was there.”
But Gerrard did confess that leading the Glasgow club – who are now just weeks away from being crowned national champions – to Premiership glory will be as satisfying an accomplishment as that historic Istanbul triumph.
“I think it will be right up there alongside it just because of the work I have had to put in here,” he said.
“The sacrifice, not being with my family much, the size and the magnitude of the challenge that we took on, the changes we have had to make.
“I think the feeling, especially because of how most of my good moments and highlights came at the beginning and in the middle stage of my career will be great. To get back to this moment that could be alongside all the highlights of my career will feel really good, if and when we do it.”
Gerrard added: “I’m really enjoying the journey so far. We are obviously in a fantastic place, sitting here right now. That hasn’t always been the case. It has been a journey and a process.
“We’ve had some lows and some tough days along the way as well. But I think you have to sometimes go through those days to grow and evolve, especially being a new group together.
“We are around 31, 32 months into the job now and we have improved an awful lot. Now we’ve got to go and finish the season as strong as we can to make sure that this season and the journey so far becomes a success.”
Gerrard has slowly but surely helped to turn around Rangers’ fortunes at home and abroad since being appointed manager back in 2018 despite not lifting any silverware. He has developed a dynamic playing style, signed well in the transfer market and raised standards as well as expectations on and off the park.
Yet, the England great stated the most important factor in the Ibrox club’s success has been the unstinting support he has received from his chairmen Dave King and Douglas Park and the directors, both financially and verbally when he has encountered setbacks.
“It was nothing we were going to change overnight or in weeks or months,” he said. “The key to all of this was the conversations I had with the chairman and the board.
“I said: ‘Look, let’s be realistic, where are we as a club? How big is the gap? What’s it going to take to bridge the gap? How long have I got to bridge the gap? Is this going to be a case of coming in and at the first bump in the road are people going to be knee-jerk in terms of decisions?’
“Are people going to understand it’s a process? We are going to need a certain amount of windows, there is going to need to be personnel change.
“Because, for me, a culture is about people. People you recruit, people you keep, people who are prepared to change, people who are prepared to reset and share the journey with you. That’s what we have tried to do.
“But the key to it all for me has been the backing of the board and the chairman, them being true to their word.
“When we have had a bit of a rough spell, I’ve had nothing but 100 per cent backing. The majority of what I’ve asked for, if not everything I’ve asked for in terms of changing personnel, I’ve been backed.
“I’ve had fantastic backing and support. That’s certainly played a massive part in getting us to where we are today.”
Gerrard, who was the Liverpool Under-19 coach when Rangers approached him three years ago, told Fowler that he feels he has developed and matured as a manager during his tenure.
“I’ve tried to become a bit more balanced,” he said. “At times, I’ve got myself too down. At other times, I’ve got myself up too much. But that’s what type of person I am. I do try to live the emotions. I try to be authentic. So I don’t want to change too much.
“But in this role, to grow into it and get better at it, it’s about being balanced around results. Because it’s important you don’t show the players or people around the club how you are feeling all the time.
“So after a defeat or a draw, if it doesn’t feel good and everyone’s feeling bad about themselves, I can’t be sulking around the place and showing it on my face or in my behaviour.
“I’ve got to try and play a different game than most at the club and try to move onto the next challenge as quick as we can and stay in the most balanced place we can.”