FORMER Rangers assistant manager Andy Watson says that new boss Steven Gerrard must be given time to turn the club around, claiming that a magician couldn’t cut the gap to Celtic during this summer’s transfer window.

Watson, who helped Alex McLeish deliver a treble to Ibrox back in the 2002/03 season, is excited by what Liverpool legends Gerrard and assistant manager Gary McAllister can achieve at Rangers, but he has urged patience from the Ibrox support as excitement builds around their appointment.

The 58-year-old is certain that the duo will significantly strengthen the Rangers team, and he is intrigued to see what signings they can pull out of the hat after securing Scott Arfield and Allan McGregor already for next term.

Read more: Erik Sviatchenko takes his leave of Celtic but the club will always be a part of him

But he is under no illusions over how difficult it will be for the Ibrox side mounting a title challenge given the gap in quality that has to be bridged to champions Celtic.

“It is a wonderful appointment by the club getting Steven Gerrard and Gary in, and I can see why it has generated so much excitement,” Watson said.

“On the other hand, I think that everybody has to show some level of patience, and there has to be a recognition of the gulf at this given time between Rangers and Celtic. That goes for both the playing side and the financial side.

“A magician couldn’t go into Ibrox at the minute and make it right, so he’s got to be given time to put his thoughts and ideas across and build up players. That can’t just happen in one window.”

While being realistic about what Gerrard can ultimately achieve over the course of next season at Rangers, Watson backed the former England captain to restore the winning mentality to the club that has been sorely lacking over the past two seasons.

And he thinks that Gerrard’s standing, as well as that of former Scotland skipper McAllister, will help the new Rangers management team handle the pressure and expectation that comes with being the manager of such a massive club.

Read more: Parma in for former Celtic and Hibs midfielder Liam Henderson as Olympiacos monitor Barrie McKay​

“They are used to winning, so they will take that philosophy in with them,” he said.

“I think the fact that they have the experiences and pressures of being at a top club like Liverpool, both have captained their countries, they have been through so much and the all of the pressures that go with that.

“The pressures as a manager will be at least as intense as that, if not more so at a club like Rangers, but their backgrounds should mean that they will handle that.”

On the subject of McAllister, Watson is very much of the opinion that behind every good manager, is a good assistant. Or two, in the case of Alex McLeish during his trophy-laden spell in charge of Rangers. It was Watson and Jan Wouters were the sounding boards for McLeish as he steered the Ibrox club through some choppy waters, cutting the wage bill dramatically while still delivering them a treble and four other trophies along the way, including the last-gasp title win on ‘Helicopter Sunday’.

The management team also took Rangers to the last 16 of the Champions League, a feat that seems all the more remarkable when considered in the context of the present day.

McLeish, rightly in the view of Watson, took the lion’s share of the credit for those accomplishments, but while modest about his own part in those feats, he does concede the importance of having the right lieutenants in place as being integral to the success of any managerial team.

Read more: Tam McManus: Loris Karius should leave Liverpool to find redemption after mistakes​

There are few better placed to judge the suitability of an assistant manager at Rangers than a man who filled the role with distinction for four-and-a-half years such as Watson, so his endorsement of McAllister as Gerrard’s number two carries significant weight, and he is convinced that they are at least on the right track with the experience of McAllister acting as a foil for the exciting yet untried Gerrard.

“I know Gary and he is a super bloke,” he said. “He’s really experienced and has been a manager in his own right, so he’s got great credentials and a really good lad.

“It’s an absolutely fantastic choice of assistant manager. With Gary’s experience on the managerial side, and the fact that he knows the Scottish game and everything that surrounds the city of Glasgow, I think it’s an inspired choice.

“When Alex and I were working together, you’re in constant contact in the office and speaking about anything and everything, be that the training or your players, the direction the manager is wanting to take and giving your input to that.

“I’m sure that will be the way it works with those two as well, and the fact they both know each other from their Liverpool days will help, playing together and sharing a lot of experiences.

“I think it’s a really great choice from Rangers.”

Read more: Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay rules out switch to England by pledging his future to Scotland​

Watson recalls the task that lay ahead of him and the rest of the Rangers management team back at the start of the new millennium as the club’s financial difficulties started to take hold, and they were forced to cut costs while still being expected to not only compete with Celtic, but beat them to major honours.

They inherited a talented squad that had to be trimmed, while Gerrard and McAllister come into the club at a time where they will certainly be looking to invest in and improve the Rangers ranks. But where their two paths converge is that success will only be possible if they manage to make the Rangers team more than the sum of its component parts.

“That’s one of the skills that Alex had,” Watson said. “We inherited a fantastic squad, and that’s where it certainly differs between the squad that Alex took over and – no disrespect – the squad that Steven is going to take over. It differs hugely in terms of the international quality in the squad that we had.

“We had to make cuts though, and when Alex did that, he was obviously reducing the quality while trying to bring in players that could still augment the squad. He did well in that respect.

“Recruitment is so key. We had Euan Chester there as chief scout, and his knowledge of the game was fantastic, and I’m sure that whoever Rangers currently employ on that side now is similarly well connected.

Read more: Erik Sviatchenko takes his leave of Celtic but the club will always be a part of him

“But it will take more than one window to sort this team out and build a team that can be up there challenging. The most important thing is getting the very most out of what you have, and Alex managed to do that to deliver success.”

Time is not a commodity often afforded to Rangers managers as Watson knows all too well, but he has urged a dose of realism from the Ibrox support over what success next season will ultimately represent.

“A lot of Rangers supporters will still be saying that second is not good enough, but you have to remember that Rangers didn’t even finish second this season, Aberdeen did,” he said.

“Aberdeen will be looking to maintain or better that position, and there is a real competition bubbling away just below that as well.

“Hibs and Hearts are showing that they can pull out big results, and more and more teams are showing that they can take points off of Rangers and Celtic. The more that can do that then the better it is for the league and the game here as a whole.

“It shouldn’t simply be a case of Rangers measuring themselves against Celtic.”

Read more: Parma in for former Celtic and Hibs midfielder Liam Henderson as Olympiacos monitor Barrie McKay​

Watson has been working in Oman for the past 18 months as technical director of a soccer academy run by former Wigan Athletic goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, and while he has enjoyed the change of scenery, he would jump at the chance to come back and work in the UK so that he can be closer to his family.

“It’s good out in Oman,” he said. “It’s totally different of course, but the people I work for are really very nice people.

“They are so good to work with, but I would love to get back to the UK at some point because the big downside is that my family isn’t there.

“After 18 months it gets a bit rough, and I think I still have a lot to offer.”