Steven Gerrard has already swooped to land twenty year old Ovie Ejaria on a season long loan deal from Liverpool. The new Rangers manager has said that the youngster is “ready to burst into life” as he begins a spell with the Scottish Premiership side. The hope for Liverpool fans is that Ejaria will get plenty of game time in Scotland, and develop into a player capable of contending for a place in Liverpool’s first team.
The former Arsenal trainee is unlikely to ever be a serious regular for the Reds but he could benefit from some game time at a club trying to play decent football and win trophies. The move also bodes well for other youngster in the youth set up. Gerrard knows the academy well and may well get one or two more before the window shuts in August. If the former Reds captain is to be successful at Ibrox, then it could be the start of a mutually beneficial relationship between the two clubs.
Style and big game experience at Rangers
Next season it is going to be harder than ever for any Liverpool youngster to get anything like the required game time for their development. Liverpool are bolstering their ranks this summer, and if they are to successfully recruit in this window, then even the cups games will offer no guarantee of game time for the likes of Woodburn, Wilson, and Solanke.
Ejaria’s loan move to Sunderland last season wasn’t ideal, given the plight of the North East side. No doubt he will benefit from playing at a club pushing for Europe at the top of the table, albeit in a lesser league.
Gerarrd will use his football education to bring a decent style of football to Rangers this coming season. Yes, the SPL is not exactly a glamorous league, but there will be plenty of tough games in their calendar for Gerrard to navigate. There will also be pressure to challenge for trophies. Regardless of the league or country – a cup final is a cup final. And these kinds of opportunities should be relished by any youngster looking to break through. You can only benefit from playing in a final or a team challenging at the top.
For the talented players in the squad, it may not be the news they want to hear from Klopp. However, a loan move is no longer the death sentence it once was, and should be seen as a real opportunity to learn and develop. If Gerrard can offer this at Rangers then the club and its youngsters must make the most of it.
Returning to Anfield as an asset
Too often Liverpool’s youngsters have had to content themselves with a place in the match day squad. Their chances of making an appearance are limited to an on the pitch catastrophe or a token appearance after eight five minutes of play. Dominic Solanke is a great example of this frustrating trait.
On paper, the forward played twenty-one times in the Premier League last season, but his actual average time on the pitch was only twenty-seven minutes played per game. That’s hardly a solid foundation for the striker to get into a run of from and exhibit his obvious talent. The big striker needs games and goals, a season on loan at Gerrard’s Rangers might help him get both. He would return to Anfield a lot more accomplished and more of an asset to the first team. Rangers would also benefit from a very talented centre-forward with a great attitude.
The same could be said for Woodburn, Camacho, Wilson et al. Not all will go to Rangers obviously, but their chances of improving as players will not come from sitting and hoping on the bench for Liverpool.
A change in dynamic
If Gerarrd was to be successful at Rangers and use his Liverpool connection accordingly, then it would be interesting to see how it would affect Celtic’s good relations with the Reds. Previously the two clubs have shared a bond that exceeds the pre-match hymn. It goes a lot deeper than that. The clubs are kindred spirits; similar fan bases, formed from working class, largely catholic communities and a shared fierce devotion to their teams.
The clubs have often shared testimonials and have a common idol in Sir Kenny Dalglish. If Gerrard were to create a similar bond during his time with Rangers, then it would be fascinating to see how things played on. Would Celtic be happy with Gerrard’s access to the club and its talented young players? Would their fan base turn sour? Whatever happens it would certainly add an extra flavour to the Glasgow Derby if the rivalry was to go up a notch.