YOU can be sure it was a Happy New Year for Steven Gerrard.
Leading Rangers to victory the Old Firm derby gave him the perfect end to his first six months as Ibrox boss.
The moves to sign Jermain Defoe, Jordan Jones and Glen Kamara will also have given him something to smile about.
The 38-year-old has been looking forward to a few days away from the rigours of management.
He admits it’s not only the players who need a rest, after a packed programme of matches.
Taking charge of a big club like Rangers would be testing for even the most-experienced of managers. Gerrard has found the job to be one that dominates almost every waking hour of his life.
There have been times when his wife, Alex, has found him deep in thought about tactics when he really should be listening to her!
He said: “Everybody needs this break. You can see it and feel it in the players, that they’re ready for a rest.
“It’s important to shut down and get away from football for a short period.
“The important thing is to switch off mentally. It’s been full-on for us, with games smacking you in the face every three or four days.
“The fitness coach told me the other day that 80% of our games have had less than a three-day lead-in. That’s tough for the players.
“Do I need to switch off as well? I’ll try.
“But the thing that’s surprised me most about management at this level is how difficult it is to switch off.
“Even when you’re at home or on a day off, I’ve found it really hard.
“It was easy as a player to switch off. I could do stuff with my friends or play golf or watch TV.
“But managing 26 players and having to make decisions round the clock, makes it very difficult.
“As a player, I just had to make sure I was right. But more often than not, that was done by 2pm every day.
“If I had a day off, I could get away from it.
“But, as a manager on a day off, your phone’s still going, there’s still decisions to make.
“You’re always either reflecting on a game – analysing where it went right or wrong – or you’ve always got one eye on the next fixture.
“The only chance I’ve had to switch off was during the international break.”
Graeme Souness – a man you’d think could cope with the toughest of schedules – admitted that being Rangers’ manager tested his mental strength.
He’d find himself staring into space at the dinner table, his thoughts drifting off to an upcoming game.
Gerrard said: “I can certainly understand that. My wife’s had to shake me a few times, and repeat herself, because I’ve not been listening properly.
“I can totally understand where Graeme is coming from. I suppose that’s life in management.”
With transfers dealings coming thick and fast, it’s unlikely that Gerrard has been able to completely escape football.
He will have enjoyed a few days away from the training ground, but the hard work starts again tomorrow at a training camp in Tenerife.
The former England star delivers a very positive report on his first half-season in Scottish football.
Taking the hot-seat at Rangers has filled a void in his life.
He went on: “I’ve really enjoyed the ride.
“I’m delighted I made the decision to come. Nothing has changed – I’m still as excited, hungry and ambitious as I was when I first walked in.
“When you finish your career, you have a decision to make.
“I’ve been on the media side of it and enjoyed it, but I felt there was a void there.
“I was a player that missed playing a lot when I retired.
“I found it very difficult, certainly in the first 12 months. There was the void.
“When I started coaching at Liverpool’s academy, a bit of it came back.
“A bit of the void was filled and coming here to Rangers means a lot more of it is filled.
“Match day is the best day.
“Everything else is good, in terms of the preparation. But it’s kick-off that’s the buzz.
“The roar before kick-off, that’s what I missed.”
Beating Celtic means people are talking about the possibility of Rangers winning the title.
Gerrard doesn’t look for a get-out when it’s put to him that supporters want instant success.
“So do I,” he said.
“I won’t sit and say the supporters have to be patient for one, two or three years.
“The message to the Rangers fans is that I’m doing everything I can to make them happy as quickly as I can.”