‘Be your own man’: Graeme Souness offers advice to new Rangers boss Steven Gerrard

Unsolicited advice falls upon the new Rangers manager like confetti on a new bride; only a Prime Minister in the midst of a Suez-sized national crisis is likely to receive a greater volume of unwanted counsel on what must be done.

As he shoulders the hopes of supporters who consider life-and-death matters of state to be less important than the average team selection, then, Steven Gerrard will hardly be short of counsel.

Which is probably why Graeme Souness keeps his words of guidance to a minimum.

New Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has been advised to be his own man by Graeme Souness

‘If you’re going to die, you have to die by making your own decisions,’ says Souness, the former Rangers and Liverpool boss cutting straight to the heart of management at any level.

‘So, my biggest piece of advice to him? Be your own man. That’s it. Be your own man. And hopefully you’re a lucky man.

‘You have to believe in what you do because, ultimately, it’s your neck that’s on the line.

‘We’ve not spoken yet but a friend of his has been in touch with me. And I will be speaking to him before the season starts.

‘He doesn’t need my advice. He is his own man.’

Souness took over as player-manager of Rangers in 1986 but says his situation was different

Souness took over as player-manager of Rangers in 1986 but says his situation was different

Gerrard’s arrival at Ibrox has been compared, repeatedly, with Souness striding into Govan as player-manager back in the summer of 1986.

The former Scotland and Liverpool star is quick to dismiss such talk, insisting: ‘There is no comparison between his situation and mine – other than it being the same club. In name.


Steven Gerrard – 2018-present

Jimmy Nicholl (caretaker) – 2018

Graeme Murty – 2017-2018

Pedro Caixinha – 2017

Graeme Murty (caretaker) – 2017

Mark Warburton – 2015-2017

Stuart McCall  (caretaker) – 2015

Kenny McDowall (caretaker) – 2014-2015

Ally McCoist – 2011-2014

Walter Smith – 2007-2011

‘It’s a very different job because I had funds to work with.

‘I had tremendous support from David Holmes, originally, and then David Murray throughout my time there.

‘It’s a very different job for Steven. The money isn’t there. Scottish football can’t attract the same type of players as you could when I was there because of circumstances.

‘And you have to say that, when I went there, you had a strong Dundee United, a strong Aberdeen, a strong Hearts and strong Celtic. Now the focus is just on catching Celtic, really.

‘Without a shadow of a doubt, Steven will be able to attract better players.

‘It comes back to whether it will be loan players or if he can buy them.

‘I don’t suppose he’ll be buying too many. So Steven will have to be calling in a few favours.

‘It’s a big, big task for him. And he’ll need a bit of luck – and support from the board.

‘In terms of bringing players in, he’ll need the chairman to help.

‘Obviously the group of players they’ve got now isn’t good enough, so there have to be changes in that respect. Steven himself will know that.

Gerrard has also been active in the transfer market, including bringing in Soctt Arfield

‘And he’ll have respect on day one because of what he achieved as a player. The players will definitely respond to that.

‘So, like every Rangers supporter, I’m optimistic. Very optimistic.’

Asked if he thought players might choose Ibrox over more lucrative options elsewhere, drawn partly by Gerrard’s standing in the game, Souness said: ‘I can’t speak for them. I just know how big Rangers Football Club is.

‘It was a privilege to work there. And hopefully a lot of players out there see it that way.’ Gerrard, currently stuck in a classroom studying for his Pro Licence, has so far assembled a backroom team drawn from people he knows extremely well.

As yet, however, there is no local expert – someone steeped in the Scottish domestic game – to do what Walter Smith did for Souness back in the day.

‘I had an enormous advantage because Walter had been around the Scottish scene for a long time,’ said Souness.

Souness received plenty of advice from his assistant Walter Smith during his time as boss

Souness received plenty of advice from his assistant Walter Smith during his time as boss

‘There were no surprises for me, whoever we were playing – because Walter knew everything about them.

‘I assume that Steven will have someone on his staff who can provide that information.

‘Gary McAllister won’t know that. But Gary is a highly thought of football person – and a really, really good human being.

‘I’m sure they’ll be fine. But you’ve got to know what you’re going in against.

‘I’m sure they’ll have someone at the club who can mark their cards before every game.’ Attention to detail will be key for Gerrard, as will the quality of player he can afford to recruit.

But much of his success will, as Souness suggests, depend on how he embraces the job.

Gerrard's vast experience as a player could help him in his managerial career

Gerrard’s vast experience as a player could help him in his managerial career

The former England captain immediately cuts a more impressive figure than either of his recent predecessors.

If nothing else, he at least looks and sounds at home in the role.

‘You need a touch of gravitas to be the Rangers manager – and I think Steven has that,’ said Souness.

‘He certainly has that from the kind of player he was. I don’t see that being an issue at all.

‘I just think he will be shocked by the passion, even though he’s coming from one passionate football club to join another passionate club.’

Souness was back in Scotland to promote the St Andrew’s Hospice All Star Charity Match in Airdrie on Saturday.

Speaking before the game, he revealed: ‘We’ve just been to the hospice and it’s a little reminder in life of how lucky we all are.

Souness was back in Scotland to promote the St Andrew's Hospice All Star Charity Match

Souness was back in Scotland to promote the St Andrew’s Hospice All Star Charity Match

‘If you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything.

‘How quickly we feel sorry for ourselves but, when you go to a hospice, it reminds you not to take life for granted.

‘I had a link with the St Andrew’s Hospice because a pal of mine’s wife spent some time in there and I know how well she was looked after.

‘That was the driving idea behind it. And the people who work in hospices are quite unique.

‘People in the football business, you hear lots of bad stories about them doing things they maybe shouldn’t do – and the mask slips, occasionally.

‘But they do a lot of good work as well. A lot of players will frequent these places and do their bit.

‘We’d all like to do more but time restrictions prevent that.

‘I wish I’d been able to play in the game.

‘I would love to play. But a combination of age and a plastic pitch would not allow it!’