A FORMER England midfielder who was considered one of the best players in the world in his position in his prime and remains revered on Merseyside to this day as a result of the domestic and European success he enjoyed during his time there was applauded warmly and cheered loudly at Ibrox yesterday.

What would Steven Gerrard have given to have been lauded by Rangers supporters in the same way that Trevor Steven, who returned to his old stomping ground to carry out the half-time draw, had been earlier when the final whistle blew at the end of the match with Celtic?

Gerrard has enjoyed, despite his failure to win the Betfred Cup, Ladbrokes Premiership or William Hill Scottish Cup during his debut season in the dugout, the almost universal backing of the Glasgow club’s fans since being appointed last May.

Having not managed before, let alone at a club of such a size and stature, has meant he has escaped the wrath that those in his position have been subjected to whenever performances and results have fallen short of what is expected down Govan way. It is widely accepted he is a long-term project and needs time to make mistakes, learn and develop.

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The sorry state of the side Gerrard inherited, too, has bought him invaluable time. He has needed to strengthen extensively both last summer and this in order to put a team on the park capable of satisfying the demands of those who sit in the stands. Much work still remains to be done.

There is an acceptance that he has been operating at a different level in the transfer market to both Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon, inset, at Celtic due to the serious financial issues that his employers inherited when they came in four years ago and continue to wrestle with.

The Parkhead club lavished more on one player – £7 million centre half Christopher Jullien - during the close season than their Ibrox counterparts did on all eight of their permanent signings. They already had an embarrassment of riches at their disposal and a surplus of money in the bank.

There is, however, still a limit to how much followers of Rangers can take before they grow disgruntled and call for change. The lacklustre performance and painful loss their team suffered at home at the hands of opponents who were missing several key players has not been well received. Any repeat going forward will see their love affair with the man in charge sour.

Gerrard is no mug. He appreciates the reality of the profession he is in. He acknowledged that he needs to deliver silverware this term when Rangers had lost their Scottish Cup quarter-final replay to Aberdeen at Ibrox back in March. “If I don’t win the next three or four things that are available maybe I won’t be here,” he said.

There was no abuse directed at Gerrard when referee Bobby Madden brought an end to proceedings yesterday. The majority of the 49,873-strong crowd dispersed when substitute Jonny Hayes scored to make it 2-0 to the visitors in the 93rd minute. But there was, understandably in the circumstances, little love shown towards him either.

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If Celtic maintain their domestic dominance, pull further ahead in the league and look like winning yet another treble there will be inevitable calls for change at Rangers, claims the Gerrard experiment has failed, appeals for a more experienced man to be brought on board. It is always thus.

Gerrard has proved himself to be a class act in so many respects since moving to Scotland. The scrutiny he is under doesn’t faze him in the slightest. Nor does what criticism comes his way. Having been the captain of both Liverpool and England during his illustrious playing days he is well used to it all.

He has never been anything other than honest, forthright and respectful in his dealings with the media. Yesterday was a case in point. He accepted his share of responsibility for the reverse and agreed his team selection and tactics could have been at fault. A lesser coach, a lesser man, would have blamed the match official.

Yet, ultimately it is what his team does on the park, how good a manager he proves himself to be, that matters. It is, with the superior resources his opposite number Lennon has to work with, harsh. But it is the way it is, has always been and will be forever more.

There tends to be an hysterical overreaction to any Old Firm result. Bold predictions the balance of power in Scottish football could be set to change after eight long years when Rangers beat Celtic 1-0 at Ibrox last December certainly proved well wide of the mark. This is, it should be remembered, just one bad game.

Gerrard’s team are back in the Europa League group stages having become the first to successfully negotiate four qualifying rounds twice, are in the Betfred Cup quarter-finals and are only three points behind Celtic in the Ladbrokes Premiership having won their first three matches. There is no need to panic quite yet.

The Group G matches against Porto, Young Boys and Feyenoord promise to be great occasions and will once again draw sizeable crowds. Could Rangers progress to the knockout rounds this term? The calibre of opposition they are set to face is far higher than they have come up against to date and they will do well to go through. But their manager is vastly-experienced in continental competition and will be determined to go further than last season.

If he picks the wrong players and decides on the wrong game plan, as he did yesterday, that won’t happen. Nor will Rangers lift their first piece of major silverware since the Premiership back in 2011. Gerrard’s team must deliver if he is to avoid the fate of so many of his predecessors.