There’s an excellent article in the Scotsman today on how well Steven Gerrard’s career as a manager has started.
He has solidified the Rangers defense so they are difficult to score goals against and he admits the experience of working with Rafa Benitez at Liverpool has helped him do that.
Steven was the Liverpool captain when Rafa was there from 2004 through 2010 and Liverpool were very successful, reaching the Champions League final twice and winning it in 2005 – the miracle in Istanbul against AC Milan.
3-0 down at halftime and they win the game on penalties with Steven Gerrard playing magnificently in that famous comeback.
Gerrard has only kept one player – captain James Tavernier – the former Newcastle defender, from the back four and goalkeeper of last season and it all seems to be paying off.
Rafa Benitez and Steven Gerrard while both at Liverpool
This is what Steven has said in the Scotsman today – mainly about Rafa Benitez:
“You certainly try to dig into experiences as a player and coaches you worked under. Rafa was the master of defending away in Europe and being hard to play against.”
“Then using the power of Anfield in the home leg,”
“The important thing for me was that teams used to fancy playing against Rangers. Teams would fancy themselves to create and score. For us it was important to make teams fear us.”
“When you came up against Rangers they were hard to beat and organized and had players who were prepared to put their body on the line.”
“I think we have got that at the moment but it is important we continue it.”
“He helped me become a better player tactically.” “When Rafa got me maybe I couldn’t be trusted fully positionally. I maybe had too much energy and would lose my slot at an important time.”
“I had too much enthusiasm to go forward and get goals. It was maybe a bit of ego. But individual performances don’t always get you the right result in Europe.”
“It is about the team, the structure, the organisation.”
“Rafa was a master at it and he improved that side of my game massively.”
“It’s the only way to progress, not just in Europe.”
“Moving forward, if we have any ideas of being successful it’s important that you defend your goal and we’ve got people now in the door who are capable of doing that.”
“Hopefully, we can maybe add one more in that area as well because I do feel we are a little bit light, certainly at the heart of our back four.”
“It was certainly an area I knew when I came in that I had to address and strengthen, to try and build a strong spine through the team and so far defensively we’ve performed very well.”
Some good comments there from Gerrard and it’s great to see him having a decent start to his career as the Rangers manager.
It will be good to see Rangers back to being a power in football north of the border again.
And we should see Rafa Benitez’ ability to organize a defense in Newcastle’s next three league games – Chelsea at home, Manchester City away and Arsenal at home.
But Robert Kenedy missing the penalty yesterday with the last kick of the game was 2 points dropped for Newcastle in the 0-0 draw.
We will do well if we can limit the goals conceded and pick up some points in our next three games against top six opposition.