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David Moyes can’t see Steven Gerrard’s Rangers being equipped to stop Celtic within 12 months

David Moyes (Steven Paston/PA Wire)
David Moyes (Steven Paston/PA Wire)

DAVIE MOYES left Scottish football in 1993.

He has worked in England and abroad ever since, holding down, among others, prestigious jobs at Manchester United and Everton.

He has just finished a six-month spell at West Ham United and guided the Hammers to Premier League safety after taking over when they were in the bottom three.

But despite being away from his home nation for 25 years – he has turned down opportunities to manage both Celtic and Scotland in the past decade – he is a proud Scot, and one who loves to see the domestic game thrive and grow.

That’s why he is delighted with the appointment of Steven Gerrard as Rangers manager.

Moyes feels this has enhanced the reputation of the game in Scotland and increased its profile.

From that, new sponsorship should arrive, more lucrative television deals will be on the horizon and even better players will want to perform here.

Throwing Gerrard into the mix against experienced managers such as Brendan Rodgers, Derek McInnes, Neil Lennon, Stevie Clarke and Craig Levein can only add to the competition and the product.

In an exclusive interview, Moyes told The Sunday Post: “I really believe Scottish football is in good shape, and on the up, because of what Brendan Rodgers has done at Celtic.

“He has now won back-to-back Trebles, and they have managed to do that because they have some excellent players and they are also organised and coached very well.

“Brendan has raised the bar, of that there is no doubt.

“He has set incredible standards by the success he has achieved in the past two seasons.

“Now Rangers have raised the profile a notch by appointing Steven Gerrard.

“It reminds me of when Graeme Souness arrived in 1986 to take over as player-manager of Rangers.

“He brought in a certain calibre of player, and was able to attract the likes of Terry Butcher, Chris Woods and Mark Hateley to Ibrox.

“Now, of course, those were different days back then, and there’s no way we will see Gerrard bringing in the current goalkeeper, centre-half and centre-forward of England to Ibrox.

“Rangers don’t have anywhere near the financial muscle to do it.

“But there are similarities, in terms of how many more people down south are now talking about the Scottish game and waiting to see who Rangers will sign, the calibre of player they will attract and how they will perform.

“Everyone is aware of the ability Gerrard had as a player.

“The way he performed at a high level for Liverpool and England for more than a decade made him one of the most-accomplished players of his generation.

“He was an outstanding midfielder and a great leader. But we have nothing to base him on as a manager. What I will say is that it speaks volumes that at Liverpool he was willing to go and work with the youth players and get involved at grassroots.

“Right away, for me, that is a plus point.

“He will also have been well educated down the years from managers and coaches such as Brendan, Rafa Benitez, Kenny Dalglish, Gerard Houllier and Steve McClaren.

Steven Gerrard (Jeff Holmes/PA Wire)

“He will have taken the plus points with him, and discarded anything he perceived as negatives from them.

“But he then has to take the knowledge he has out on to the training pitch with him and coach his players.

“That will be the real testing ground. Coaching his players, getting his ideas across, finding the different formations to suit his players and adapting tactically are all crucial elements.

“Then, of course, there is dealing with the different egos, being able to put an arm around the shoulder of a player and then telling another one that he is being dropped or made available for transfer.

“It all goes into the mix, and you need to be really good at what you do to survive and be successful.

“Being successful at Rangers, at this stage, is all about stopping Celtic as quickly as possible.

“Brendan and his players have just completed seven titles on the trot, and are clear favourites to make it eight. They will take some stopping and I can’t imagine Rangers being equipped to stop them within 12 months.

“It is likely to take at least one more year after that.

“However, you can’t ever completely rule anything out.

“The fact Gary McAllister is the assistant manager at Rangers is a very smart move.

“There is clearly trust and understanding between the two, and Gary also knows Rangers very well.

“He is a supporter and will also know Glasgow and the goldfish bowl that comes with being at one half of the Old Firm.

“All in all, it makes for a brilliant season ahead.

“Apart from Brendan at Celtic, Derek McInnes will welcome the challenge of Gerrard. He has led Aberdeen to runners-up spot four seasons in a row and is a fine manager.

“Neil Lennon has built a really exciting team at Hibs, and I have to say I’ve been very impressed.

“Stevie Clarke has totally turned around the fortunes of Kilmarnock, and has the whole town buzzing.

“I’m delighted for him because I don’t think he was every fully appreciated by the clubs he managed down south.

“Away from the top flight, Jack Ross has just left St Mirren to join Sunderland.

“His excellent work in the past two years hasn’t gone unnoticed and I know from experience just how massive a club Sunderland are. They shouldn’t be in League One.

“They have a brilliant set of supporters and I wish Jack well.

“I hope he flies the flag for Scottish managers and enhances their reputation because we haven’t had as many in the top flight in the past two or three years as we would have liked.

“It was only seven or eight years ago when we had more than half-a-dozen operating in the Premier League.

“We’d all love that again.”

St Mirren manager Jack Ross with Lewis Morgan (SNS Group / Ross Parker)

There is no doubt Moyes himself will be in the top flight of the English game soon enough.

But right now, he is enjoying a break from it all.

He attended last night’s Champions League Final in Kiev as a guest of the UEFA Executive Committee.

When he does get back into football, he is likely to look north of the border for signings.

He said: “There are some excellent players in the Scottish game, and some really good Scottish kids.

“The Celtic team has two or three that could go and play for just about any side in the English Premier League.

“I think Kieran Tierney has been brilliant and Callum McGregor has really stamped his authority on big games in the last year.

“The emergence and success story of Andy Robertson at Liverpool is also a factor. He left Queen’s Park for Dundee United, and then headed for Hull City before moving to Anfield.

“He has gone to a new level.

“The more players playing European football at club level, the better.

“It’s particularly pleasing for Alex McLeish.

“He will love having as many players as possible in the national team with the ability and mentality to handle big atmospheres on the biggest of stages.

”We need our national team to be successful, so we all wish Alex and the players the very best of luck on that front when the competitive games start in September.”