Finally, after seven seasons of Celtic dominance, Scottish football is finally interesting again.
Following Rangers financial turmoil and subsequent liquidation in 2012, Scotland’s top flight has been in a major decline.
As of the 13th December 2018, Scotland’s UEFA coefficient ranking (used to determine the number of qualifying places each country’s top flight receives for the Champions League and Europa League) was below the likes of Serbia, Czech Republic, and even Cyprus.
Yep, you heard that right, according to UEFA, the Cypriot First Division is better than the Scottish Premier League.
Quite a shocking realisation but for the first time in seven seasons, the SPL is coming to the forefront of people’s attention once more and all it took was one Englishman.
Now I jest of course before the whole of Scotland turns against me, but it is undeniable that the attention Steven Gerrard’s appointment as the manager of Rangers at the beginning of the season has generated is only a good thing.
It was something of a risk for the Gers, the global media attention was a welcome plus but Gerrard is a rookie manager and asking him to take on one of the biggest clubs not just in Scotland but the whole continent was a big ask.
Admittedly, some say it was a win-win for Gerrard.
After all, back to back third places for Rangers prior to his appointment hardly set the world alight and surely anyone could guide Rangers to at least third, right?
However, Gerrard has taken the Gers to the next level and more importantly can class themselves as genuine title challengers.
Perhaps Celtic are a little bored of walking every season for the last seven years or perhaps the likes of Rangers, Aberdeen, and even Kilmarnock have finally caught up a team that seemingly cannot go any further without competition.
But Gerrard’s Rangers look the most exciting and following last weekend’s Old Firm victory, finally look the real deal after nearly a decade of trouble that almost saw the end of the club for good.
It has been a remarkable turnaround under Gerrard and one that could have been a disaster for both manager and club but one that has turned into a dream for both.
Rangers have only lost three times all season (one less than Celtic) and sit level points with Celtic on 42-points.
22-year-old forward Alfredo Morelos is the division’s top scorer which is also a remarkable feat when you consider the Colombian has been sent off three times in all competitions this season.
As a neutral, I am hoping Steven Gerrard can maintain the Gers upward curve and end Celtic’s not reign.
Not because I have anything against the Hoops, but because Scottish football needs the competition and with that will
(Headline photo credit – Andrew Milligan – AP)