THE more things change, the more they stay the same.

As Gary Gillespie surveys the scene that his fellow Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard walked into yesterday upon his arrival in Glasgow, he can’t help but spot the parallels between his own journey north from Liverpool in the early nineties. The roles may have reversed in terms of the dominant club, but the situation is strikingly similar.

Gillespie fulfilled a childhood dream when he joined Celtic in 1991 for the princely sum of £925,000. Liam Brady had just taken charge, and the signing of the European Cup-winning defender along with another big name in Tony Cascarino was intended as a statement of intent that top dogs Rangers were not to have things all their own way anymore.

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The intended coup d’etat did not pan out the way the club, nor the player, envisioned. The greater financial clout of their great rivals was still too much to overcome.

That is why he has sounded a note of caution to Gerrard and his good friend Gary McAllister as they set out to succeed where Brady failed in clawing back the considerable gap that exists in the present day between the Glasgow rivals.

Knowing Gerrard as he does though, he gives the former England captain a fighting chance of doing just that, even if he personally hopes that he fails miserably.

“It’s a huge challenge, absolutely massive,” Gillespie said. “It’s similar to when I went to Celtic and Liam Brady took over at Celtic. Rangers were the ones who were in that position then, and Liam found it very, very difficult. I think it was Liam’s first managerial position as well, and he was facing such an uphill battle.

“But Steven is a young, ambitious kind of guy, and he is a clever guy as well. He will know what he wants, and I’m sure he will have had some sort of reassurance that there will be money available and he’ll be able to bring in the players he will undoubtedly need if they are to get close to challenging Celtic.

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“I think Steven will command respect within the dressing room without a shadow of a doubt because of what he has achieved in the game.

“You’ve got to say that with Steven having that experience from his playing days allied to the fact that he is young, clever and ambitious and wants to do well, it will stand him in good stead to succeed.

“It’s obviously difficult to predict who will do well, or who will be a success or a failure as a manager, but if I was to put money on anyone being a success at Rangers, then I would say Steven Gerrard would be the man.

“He has all the desire to do well, but it’s just a question of whether he can get the budget and the tools to do that job, and from Rangers point of view, hopefully that will be the case.

“Personally, I hope he fails drastically!”

Much has been made of Gerrard’s managerial inexperience going into such a huge job, and equally of the counter-argument that McAllister will offset that as his number two. Gillespie can see both sides of the argument given McAllister’s sound background in coaching, but he is a little surprised not to see a third person yet added to the backroom mix with a greater knowledge of present-day Scottish football.

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“Gary is a big Rangers man, so he will certainly point him in the right direction and give him that little bit of experience that he will certainly need,” said Gillespie.

“To be honest with you though I was a little bit surprised that he hasn’t gone for someone alongside Gary who knows the Scottish game a little bit better, has a bit more experience in the Scottish Premiership and knows the players up there.

“I’m sure that’s something that he’s looked it and will be able to address.”

One thing that Gillespie knows will not be afforded to Gerrard and McAllister is that most precious of all commodities; time. Despite the only trophy being delivered during Gillespie’s old boss Brady’s time at Celtic being the Tennent’s Sixes, he limped on in his post until the start of his third season in charge.

These days, there would be next to no chance of Gerrard surviving in his post if he was to be without at least one major honour in his first two seasons, or perhaps even in his first.

“Any managerial job is difficult, but when you are the manager of Celtic or Rangers, it is anything but an easy gig, is it?” Gillespie said.

“There’s no second place up there, you can’t finish second behind Celtic if you are the Rangers manager and vice-versa.

“So, it will be a really tough ask for him, but I’m sure he is up for the challenge.

“It will be interesting to see how he actually does next season, and whether he can manage to close that gap so quickly. It might take him a couple of seasons, but time is not a manager’s friend anywhere these days, and especially in Glasgow.

“Everybody wants that instant success, and the punters will be demanding it.”