Former Rangers players among candidates to replace Steven Gerrard as manager
Steven Gerrard’s departure to Aston Villa has left Rangers’ board with a big decision over who to turn to as their next manager.
Here the PA news agency runs the rule over some of those who may be considered as potential successors.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst
A highly-regarded former Rangers player who also represented Holland, Barcelona and Arsenal, Van Bronckhorst has emerged as the early front-runner for the job. After spells as assistant manager with the Dutch national team and Feyenoord, he had four years as boss of the Rotterdam club between 2015 and 2019 in which he led them to their first Eredivisie title in 18 years in 2017 and also claimed two Dutch cups. Had a year managing in China in 2020 and has been out the game since quitting last December. Certainly has the high profile required to excite supporters.
Lampard is possibly the most similar option to Gerrard in terms of age, profile and status. The former England midfielder is currently out of work after losing his dream job at Chelsea earlier this year, but showed enough in his time at Stamford Bridge, and in his first role at Derby, to suggest he could yet establish himself as a manager of substance. Heavily linked with Norwich, it remains to be seen if he would be interested in a move to Scotland.
Former Scotland and Rangers defender Martin would be an underwhelming choice in the eyes of many supporters, but the eye-catching football he has presided over at English League One side MK Dons and more recently Championship club Swansea has brought his name into the discussion.
Out of work after being sacked from the role at Aston Villa which Gerrard has since jumped into, Smith would be viewed as a palatable option by many supporters. Did a good job overall at Villa before the wheels came off in recent months. Likely to be in demand when other Premier League vacancies arise.
If Rangers are inclined to look towards anyone currently working within the SPFL, Neilson would be the standout option following his impressive start to the season with Hearts. Indeed, it could be viewed as a chance to kill two birds with one stone in terms of weakening a rival club who look like they might just be equipped to mount a title challenge.
Former Rangers midfielder McInnes was the front-runner to succeed Pedro Caixinha at Ibrox in 2017, and will surely at least be considered again after a largely positive eight years in charge of Aberdeen ended in March. Another who probably would not be deemed of a high-enough calibre to enthuse supporters.
Former Hamilton boss Neil has been helping out Crewe in an advisory role recently after leaving Preston earlier this year. Has a good reputation in Scotland but – like most home-based managers – would be a hard-sell for supporters after having someone as high profile as Gerrard.
Would be a hugely bold call, but there are plenty of Rangers fans keen for Thomson, the club’s spirited former midfielder, to one day get the chance to manage the club. The 37-year-old is highly-regarded following his work as a coach within the Ibrox youth ranks and has had an impressive start to his managerial career by leading Kelty Hearts to the top of League Two. Currently the same age as Gerrard was when he was appointed Rangers manager and arguably has more coaching/managerial experience.
After winning two cups with St Johnstone in his first season as a manager, Davidson is highly regarded in Scotland. His team are not in great form this term, however, and – for all his promise as a boss – he would not be seen as a fashionable appointment by supporters.