With one more tie against FC Ufa to come, Steven Gerrard is on the verge of a terrific achievement.
The Rangers manager has only been in the door since the beginning of June. However, already he is on the cusp of bringing back European nights back to Ibrox in their proper form. Qualification to the Europa League would secure that.
Granted, it’s not where Rangers ultimately want to be. The Champions League has to one day be in the new manager’s sights.
Yet, if Gerrard does secure qualification and sees of Ufa over the next couple of weeks, he deserves more credit than he’s getting.
When Rangers were knocked out of the competition last year by Progres Niederkorn, it was shocking and unacceptable. However, it also showed just how far away this Ibrox side was from qualifying for continental competition. It was embarrassing, deflating, and morale-sapping.
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Despite being in the door for what seems like two minutes, Gerrard has already got Rangers to within touching distance of group stage European football.
It’s not as if Rangers have taken the easy route either.
Shkupi was a tie the Gers should’ve won, and did so comfortably. However, the clashes with Osijek and Maribor should’ve seen Gerrard’s men knocked out. Both sides were full of bravado whilst Rangers were just at the start of a massive rebuilding job.
However, organisation and determination were enough to put both sides to the sword.
With the confidence now brimming around Ibrox, it shows just how much a good Europa run can do.
Gerrard has managed, within a few weeks, to almost totally turn the club around. There may remain a lot of work still to do, but they have made a quicker start than many would’ve anticipated.
Victory over Ufa over two legs will see Rangers return to European football for the first time since 2010. If that happens, Gerrard has achieved something truly sensational just a couple of months after walking through the door.