In May last year, The Daily Record was still in the flush of the Steven Gerrard honeymoon. It had lasted his first season in charge. He was being feted by a media that was sure – certain – that he had the tools to break Celtic’s stranglehold on the league.
“Steven Gerrard insists Scottish football’s worse than he expected” screamed their headline, on an article which detailed all the things he wasn’t impressed with. Two of them – the shocking state of the pitches and teams who play long ball football – are especially delicious looking back when one considers the nick of Ibrox and his team’s own playing style.
Ten months, £20 million and a few Celtic trophies later, Gerrard is crashing.
The wall of reality has been speeding towards this joker and his team all season. The teams he disdained, the clubs he really did believe would bend and then break in front of his club, have been standing up to them and even beating them with regularity since the turn of the year.
His one dimensional brand of football has been found out.
His weaknesses as a manager have been exposed. He is reeling, desperately trying now to get to the summer so that he can do yet another rebuild of the squad with someone else’s money. He aims to jettison the team he himself put together, the second such time he’s done so.
I looked back on that Record article this morning in delight and with some amazement at how arrogant and dismissive it is. The reason I went back to it is that I heard Gordon Dalziel on Clyde the other day say that Gerrard had respected other clubs and didn’t underestimate the game here, but that claim is flatly contradicted by the Sevco boss’s own words both before, in and after that Record piece. He has never taken the game here seriously.
Look at his obvious anger every time his side fails to win, and the way he refers to his club and the opposition.
“A club like (ours) should never be dropping points to them,” is a familiar response.
It is egotistical in a way that is quite breath-taking and it speaks to the mind-set in that dressing room. It suggests that Gerrard really does believe that a Sevco jersey makes a player better and raises him above the average footballer in the league.
Sevco itself is full of average players.
A lot of them were signed – this summer – from the very clubs Gerrard disdained. His next signings are almost certain to come from the UK market, many of them from lower leagues. It’s not too different a policy than that which operates at Aberdeen and Hearts and other clubs on this island.
It has been highly amusing watching this giant ego crash against the rocks of the real world.
One thing is for sure, as this season gallops towards its close; there are no canonisation pieces being written about him now, no articles about how he has the measure of this league, no stories about how he’s on the cusp of greatness.
He still believes all of that of course. It’s evident in every word he says.
His problem, he says, is that the players haven’t lived up to his own standards.
This is part of what I wrote about yesterday when I did the piece on Provan; if Gerrard tried that down south, in a dressing room full of internationals and multi-millionaires, he’d be routed out the door in double quick time.
As it is, he is still in post, still has the support of the board and much of the Ibrox faithful still thinks the sun shines out of his backside.
But it’s all becoming untenable.
The only question is how much more damage he’ll do – to the club and his own reputation – before someone pulls the plug on this whole daft, and expensive, experiment.