Terry Butcher has warned new Rangers boss Steven Gerrard he cannot allow Celtic to extend their dominance of Scottish football this summer if he is to restore the club’s fortunes.
Former Liverpool and England midfielder Gerrard was handed the first job of his managerial career when he agreed to take over at Ibrox last week a matter of days after their arch-rivals had clinched a seventh successive Ladbrokes Premiership title courtesy of a 5-0 Old Firm victory.
Butcher, who won three titles and two League Cups in four years as a player at Rangers, believes his compatriot’s first few months in the job are key.
He said: “Next year is going to be difficult with him bedding in, but Rangers don’t want to lose any more ground on Celtic and if Celtic were to rebuild in the summer in terms of getting better players in, then that gap could widen, so he has got to be careful and make sure that it doesn’t.
“But it will be interesting. My first job, I was a manager at 31 at Coventry, so I went in really, really young and it hits you right between the eyes.
“But I think he’s got the character just to make sure he’s not fazed by it, to learn, but also to implement what he wants, and that takes a bit of time.”
For Butcher, Gerrard’s appointment brought back memories of his time at Ibrox under Graeme Souness, and while he knows how tough the job could be, he is confident assistant Gary McAllister’s presence will be a huge help.
He said: “With Gary McAllister as his number two, I think that’s a really good move. I like Gary and he’ll know all about the scene at Rangers.
“But he’s still got a really tough job. Celtic are still a long, long way ahead. Now he has been promised funds – we’ll wait and see if that comes to fruition because managers have been promised that in the past at Ibrox recently and it hasn’t really been forthcoming.
“But if anybody can lift Rangers, it will be Steven Gerrard because he’s a winner and he wants the very best.”
Former Motherwell, Inverness and Hibernian boss Butcher knows how difficult it can be working as an Englishman north of the border amid intense media scrutiny of the Old Firm clubs, but he is confident Gerrard can handle that.
He said: “He’ll be used to that having played for Liverpool and being the England captain as well. But to go to Scotland as a player, let alone as a manager, it’s a different world, it really is.
“It’s absolutely totally different.”
However, Butcher, who was speaking as he helped to launch the film Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager, admitted winning football matches would soon ease Gerrard’s path.
He said: “Yes, absolutely – and winning against Celtic. If he can win his first game, like I did in ’86, it’s a big help.”
:: Bobby Robson: More Than A Manager coming to select theatres 1st June. Now available to pre-order, Digital Download 1st June & Blu-Ray/DVD 4th June