Steven Gerrard takes charge of his first league game as a manager on Sunday when his Rangers side travel to Aberdeen in the opening Scottish Premiership fixture live on Sky Sports this season.
Gerrard – who made 710 appearances for Liverpool, winning eight major trophies – had worked as a coach within Liverpool’s youth system before his appointment as on a four-year contract in May.
He takes over a side that finished third in the Scottish Premiership last season, 12 points behind champions Celtic and three points adrift of runners-up Aberdeen.
If Rangers are to stop Celtic winning the title for the eighth season in a row, Gerrard will look to improve a defence that conceded 50 league goals last season and a team that has failed to win any of the eight Old Firm league games since returning to the top division in 2016.
Last season, Rangers conceded twice as many as Celtic (25), with only five teams conceding more. It was the most goals they had conceded in a league campaign for 59 years and the fourth most goals conceded in a league season in their history.
Season: goals conceded Season Goals conceded 1938/39 55 1925/26 55 1958/59 51 2017/18 50
The early signs are encouraging with Gerrard’s new-look side keeping a clean sheet in all three Europa League Qualifying games played so far this season with a revamped defence consisting of returning goalkeeper Alan McGregor and new signings Connor Goldson, Nikola Katic and Jon Flanagan alongside newly appointed captain James Tavernier.
Another area of concern for Gerrard will be Rangers’ home form. Last season they lost seven league games at Ibrox for the first time in 103 years (since 1914-15) and for only the second time in their history.
Of these seven defeats, five were against teams finishing in the top five (2 v Celtic, 2 v Hibernian and 1 v Kilmarnock).
Season with most home defeats Season Home league defeats 2017/18 7 1971/72 7 1959/60 6 1925/26 6
Finally, Gerrard will be looking to improve Rangers’ record in Old Firm games where they are yet to win in 11 meetings in all comps (D2, L9) since promotion back to the Scottish Premiership in 2016 – their longest ever winless run in Old Firm derbies against Celtic across Scotland’s three major competitions.
In eight league meetings in this period, they have won only two points.
Gerrard’s start at Ibrox has been encouraging and with Rangers winning on five of their last seven league visits to Pittodrie (D1, L1) the omens are good as the Scottish season begins this weekend live on Sky Sports.