John Barnes has cautioned Sevco against losing faith in Steven Gerrard.
He has said that even if the former Liverpool youth coach fails to stop the ten the Ibrox club should keep him in post, because he will eventually come good, with the right backing.
My view on this is simple; John Barnes is correct. Gerrard must stay.
As long as he wants. And he must be resourced to the best of the club’s ability … and then beyond. Far beyond. Way beyond. As far as they can afford and then past that until they can’t find another penny down the side of the sofa cushions. And you know what? It won’t make him better.
It is amazing to me how the narrative around Gerrard has moved over time.
Now the excuse is that he hasn’t been given enough, when this guy has been better resourced than any manager in Sevco history, and probably better than every other manager in Scotland over the two years of his stay so far. Yet his apologists and supporters want him to have more.
I’ve said this before; Gerrard has not improved a single footballer in his time at Ibrox.
The three best players they’ve had in the time he’s been there have been Jack, Tavernier and Morelos; he didn’t sign any of them.
His own players have been massive disappointments, all perhaps but for Barisic, and that’s a fairly recent phenomenon and might not last long.
Three of his signings from the last window – Jones, Hastie and Barker – will almost certainly depart in this one; Hastie already has, returning on loan to Motherwell. I don’t expect he’ll ever play at Ibrox as a Sevco player again. Gerrard has signed more than 20 players in two years; nought but a handful are what you would call “first team regulars.”
Most incredibly, for a guy who’s only other job in management was as a youth coach, you can count on one hand the number of Sevco youth footballers who he has blooded since his arrival. It is almost embarrassing when you consider that all three Celtic managers in the nine-in-a-row period, with all the resources available to them, have allowed youth players to come up from the reserves and stake a claim for a first team slot.
Last season, Lennon gave full debuts to three of them; Stephen Welsh, Scott Robertson and Karamoko Dembele.
Ewan Henderson made one appearance before being allowed to go out on loan.
It was the year when Jeremie Frimpong cracked the first team just after signing from Man City’s youth side … and Mikey Johnston finally arrived as a fully-fledged member of the first team squad. Lennon’s faith in young talent was rewarded.
But how can youth players progress at a club who goes out and signs the equivalent of a full first team starting eleven every season? How is that supposed to work?
Gerrard may or may not get money to spend this summer, but he’ll almost certainly try to bring in at least a half dozen extra players, on whatever terms he can. Last season, in the first window, he signed nine players and brought two in on loan … he signed another two on loan in January, for a grand total of eleven footballers in a single, disastrous, campaign.
In contrast, we signed eight first team players, including loans, in the last summer window … almost all of them – with the sole exception of Elyounoussi – were defensive players. We signed three right-backs, two left backs, a central defender and a goalkeeper, thus rebuilding an area of the team where we had lost a considerable number of players and needed to focus our efforts. I am counting Frimpong in that category because he played a lot of games.
As a result of our traditional transfer policies, there is an air of calm and certitude at Celtic which Sevco, for its spendthrift ways, has simply never had. Their team has rebuilt year on year, with the squandering of millions already … nobody can now say however that this is not already Gerrard’s team, even if only a handful of players in it are his signings.
To give this guy more of anything – time or money – is frankly a nonsense, but that insanity is what Sevco appears determined to persevere with, and that’s all to the good.
So I agree with John Barnes on this way. Gerrard must stay, and as long as he likes.
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