Steven Gerrard: Who could replace him as Rangers manager at Ibrox?


Rangers are searching for a new manager following Steven Gerrard’s switch to Aston Villa, but who could replace him at Ibrox?

Whoever takes over at the Scottish Premiership champions will face a tough start at Ibrox, with a League Cup semi-final against Hibernian, a make-or-break Europa League tie with Sparta Prague and several tricky league fixtures on the horizon.

With Champions League football awaiting the winners of the Scottish Premiership – which Rangers are currently top of by four points, ahead of rivals Celtic – the stakes could not be higher for the incoming manager.

  • Gerrard appointed Aston Villa boss
  • What is in Gerrard’s in-tray at Villa?
  • Rangers fixtures | Transfer Centre LIVE!

Here, we take a look at some of the potential candidates tipped to take charge at Rangers…

Giovanni van Bronckhorst

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Dutch football journalist Marcel van der Kraan believes the timing is ‘perfect’ for Rangers to appoint former player Giovanni van Bronckhorst as their new manager

The former Ibrox star is an early favourite with bookmakers and fans to replace Gerrard.

Van Bronckhorst played for Rangers between 1998 and 2001, winning five trophies, including two league titles, before spells at some of Europe’s elite clubs such as Arsenal and Barcelona.

After hanging up his boots at Feyenoord in 2010, the 46-year-old went on to join the coaching set-up under Ronald Koeman at the Dutch club, before taking full control in 2015.

Also See:

  • Gerrard appointed Aston Villa boss
  • Rangers fixtures
  • Gerrard’s in-tray: What would be Villa priorities?
  • Transfer Centre LIVE!

Image: Van Bronckhorst with Man City boss Pep Guardiola

He led Feyenoord to KNVB Cup success in his first full season in charge, before sealing the Eredivisie title the year after – the club’s first in 18 years.

Van Bronckhorst went on to join Chinese Super League club Guangzhou City, where, after finishing 11th, he quit to return to his family.

It is understood that after a spell out of the game, he is now keen on a return to management.

Derek McInnes

Image: Could Derek McInnes succeed Gerrard at Ibrox?

Another former Rangers midfielder ranks high with the bookmakers, but, after turning down the top job at Ibrox in 2017, he might not be as popular with supporters.

McInnes has not been in work since leaving Aberdeen last season, following eight years in charge at Pittodrie where he won one trophy.

Despite some criticism from the Dons’ faithful over his style of play, there is no doubt he knows and understands Rangers.

Following over 50 appearances for the Govan club, plus countless matches against the Premiership leaders – McInnes would understand the size of the job at Ibrox.

With former players such as Charlie Adam calling for the 50-year-old to get the job – only time will tell if Rangers offer him it again.

John Terry

Image: John Terry is available after leaving Villa in July

The ex-England and Chelsea captain has been out of work since leaving Villa in July.

Terry was Dean Smith’s assistant head coach for three years, where he helped Villa win promotion from the Championship in May 2019 as the club ended their three-year Premier League absence.

At the time, Terry – who was tipped to become a manager in his own right – said he wanted to spend time with his family.

His lack of experience as a number one is not dissimilar to Gerrard before his arrival and Sky Sports News has learnt he would be open to opportunities.

However, it remains to be seen if Rangers would opt for another rookie appointment at a crucial stage of the season.

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Alex Neil

Image: Alex Neil has been linked with the vacant managerial role at Ibrox

Could Rangers be tempted by another man who is currently out of work?

Neil has experience of competing in Scotland’s top flight after a 10-year spell as player, then manager of Hamilton.

The former midfielder secured the Accies promotion into the Premiership and guided them into third spot, before leaving for Norwich City.

Neil led the Canaries into the Premier League via the play-offs in 2015, but suffered relegation a season later and was sacked after 27 months at the club.

Preston came calling, where Neil saw the club finish seventh in the Championship at the end of his first season in charge, but that was as good as it got before he left Deepdale in March this year.

Frank Lampard

Image: Frank Lampard is also out of work after leaving Chelsea last season

Norwich are in talks with Gerrard’s former England team-mate, but could the lure of Ibrox sway Lampard north of the border?

The one-time Chelsea boss has not held a job since being sacked by the Blues in January 2021 following a poor run of results.

Having spent over £200m in the summer, Lampard left Chelsea in mid-table and was said to be “disappointed” not to have had the time to take the club forward – a luxury that would not be on offer at Rangers either.

However, it cannot be forgotten what Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer achieved in his first season – an FA Cup final and Champions League qualification – all while giving first-team roles to a number of academy graduates.

Dean Smith

Image: Dean Smith recently left Aston Villa

It would be a sensational story if Smith were to replace Gerrard at Ibrox.

Rangers legend Ally McCoist has pinpointed the former Villa manager as the one he would pick to take charge at the club.

Smith might have been sacked after a run of five successive league defeats which left Villa 16th in the Premier League, but it should not be forgotten what he achieved before his axing.

Smith took charge of Brentford in 2015 and transformed the team into one which played an attractive passing style of football – something that would appeal to the Rangers faithful.

Smith was then appointed by Villa in October 2018, with the club 14th in the Championship – fast forward a few months and he guided them to promotion that season via the play-offs.

On the final day of the 2020 campaign, Smith kept the club in the top flight, before leading them to 11th last season.

Smith – who also took Villa to the Carabao Cup final last year – believed he would have finished in the top 10 this season if given time.

It remains to be seen if he has got the hunger to get back in the dugout so soon and prove the doubters wrong though.

Kjetil Knutsen

Perhaps a name that is not as familiar – the Norwegian coach is creating headlines at Bodo Glimt.

Knutsen took over as manager in 2018 following a brief spell as assistant and has transformed the club from relegation dodgers to champions.

He delivered the club’s first Eliteserien title last season and smashed several records in the process, and they also recently beat Jose Mourinho’s Roma in the Europa Conference League.

His team are now competing with the likes of Molde and Rosenberg – despite a far smaller budget.

Fans will likely buy into his style too, with a large focus on possession-based football, a high press and a familiar 4-3-3 formation.

Knutsen, 53, is known for being calm and methodical in his approach too – something that could come in handy in Glasgow.

Gennaro Gattuso

Image: Could former Rangers midfielder Gattuso return to Ibrox?

The word calm might not spring to mind for this former Rangers player, who has earned a reputation that precedes him.

However, that passion may excite the Rangers fans, who hold him in high regard.

Gattuso spent a year at Ibrox before a trophy-laden 13 seasons at AC Milan, where he won 10 trophies, including the Champions League.

His time as a manager has not been as fruitful, with just one Coppa Italia title to show, following spells at six different clubs.

He was thought to be in the frame for the Spurs job and also joined Fiorentina recently, only for that move to collapse a few weeks later.

Gattuso still holds his time in Glasgow in high regard, but will the Ibrox club opt for the Italian – a move many may view as a risky choice?

Callum Davidson

Image: St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson has been tipped to replace Gerrard at Ibrox

In many eyes, Davidson was the alternative choice to Gerrard for last season’s manager-of-the-year award.

Davidson took over at St Johnstone last summer – challenged with the task of following in the footsteps of club legend Tommy Wright.

The former Saints full-back did better than just steady the ship – he led the club to their greatest-ever season, winning both the League Cup and Scottish Cup, plus securing fifth spot in the Scottish Premiership.

There were reports he was a target for several English Football League clubs, but instead Davidson penned a new deal at McDiarmid Park in September.

His side – operating on a tiny budget in comparison to many – also impressed in the European qualifiers as they pushed Galatasaray and LASK close.

Some supporters may feel he does not carry the same clout as the names above – however, there is no doubting his ability.

Could Rangers now move for a man seen by many as one of the finest prospects in management?

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