James Tavernier will lead Glasgow Rangers as club skipper for the season ahead; a campaign that comes with a great deal of optimism as new coach Steven Gerrard prepares to put his managerial skills to the test.
Gerrard has engendered a buoyant mood at Ibrox since his arrival with fans obviously smitten by his passion, desire and appetite for his new job. He has spoken of his hunger to deliver to Rangers a brand of football that will give them a chance to bringing some silverware back to the club.
And he has chosen Tavernier as his captain to carry his message on to the pitch. It is a role with which Tavernier is familiar, having worn the armband as the curtain came down on last season.
Gerrard wasted no time in handing him the role once more and it was he who led the team through the 6-0 hammering of Bury on Friday of last week. The build-up to the opening game of the pre-season friendly matches saw Gerrard run the rule over the willingness of Tavernier to accept the job once more. And the Rangers chief says he saw in the player the will to embrace the responsibility.
“I’m delighted with him. Not just the performances, but the character, the man and the leader. He has been through some highs and lows here of late, but he is one who has been very consistent.
“I know the fans like him very much, but we have been working with him for 17 days and he has been fantastic in every single department.”
The game against Bury proved a useful run-out for Gerrard’s troops and after watching six of the best from Scott Arfield (two), Nikola Katic, Jamie Murphy, Alfredo Morelos and Zak Rudden, the new man at the helm held forth on why he was thrilled with the win and the enthusiasm of the fans who turned out in huge numbers for a game that hardly had “prestige friendly” writ large.
Former England ace Gerrard, who won a clutch of honours during a mesmerising career with Liverpool, said:
“I loved it. The turnout has been building all week and we got just above 40,000, which for a friendly in the summertime is an incredible turnout.
“So, we thank them for that and the support, and the boys responded to it. I said to them before the game you have a responsibility to excite and entertain this crowd – that is the responsibility of being a Rangers player. To be fair to them, they have gone out, they have performed and they have excited, and I am sure they are going away really happy. We are happy, but there is still work to do.
“We got the clean sheet, but if we want to be successful as a team, then it is very important we stop conceding stupid goals here at home. That is a very important thing, so I am delighted with the clean sheet, I am delighted with our reaction when we give the ball away – we went and tried to hunt it down. The energy and the fitness were really good. We are in a good place, but we need to keep building on it.”