AND so, Steven Gerrard is gone. No doubt, his departure is raw for Rangers supporters, who proclaimed that he may be a legend in Liverpool, but he was now a god in Glasgow after winning the club’s 55th title last season. Or perhaps more pertinently, for stopping Celtic winning 10 in-a-row in the process.

Understandably, many are upset at the timing of his departure. Not only did Gerrard make a show of underlining how ‘settled and happy’ he was at Ibrox after the game against Brondby amid links to the Newcastle United job (might I suggest an apology to interviewer Emma Dodds over her admonishment for asking a ‘silly question’ is due), but Rangers are at a potentially critical juncture of their season.

Next weekend, they have the League Cup semi-final against Hibernian at Hampden, two crucial Europa League fixtures against Sparta Prague and Lyon on the horizon, not to mention the hectic and potentially pivotal festive Premiership schedule to negotiate.

Taking these factors into account, it is perhaps no surprise to see some of the more extreme reactions to his mid-season move to Aston Villa, with the man lauded a hero in the summer now being branded a ‘rat’ by some and a ‘traitor’ by others.

If all this sounds mildly familiar, it may be because the departure of a manager in mid-season from Celtic to the English Premier League sparked much the same reaction from a section of fans across the city not so long ago.

When the penny dropped that Brendan Rodgers in fact wasn’t here for 10 in-a-row, the travelling Celtic support at their team’s next match at Tynecastle unveiled a banner that read ‘You traded immortality for mediocrity, never a Celt, always a fraud’.

What he has gone on to achieve with Leicester City since might suggest that not only does he have a bit about him as a coach after all, but that their definition of mediocrity and his may well differ significantly.

And this is the crux of the issue. Just as with Rodgers, Gerrard has made the only logical decision open to him. While some fans of both clubs may fail to understand why either man could possibly leave the club they love at such seemingly important moments in their history, both of these men always had wider horizons.

That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. While it is tempting to lament the fall in the standing of Celtic and Rangers - mainly driven by the disparity in finances to the ‘big five’ leagues - and Scottish football by extension, there is a case for embracing our place in the food chain.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you settle for mediocrity or stop dreaming of competing on the European stage, but a dose of realism may not do some within Scottish football any harm.

John Hartson said this week that Rangers could fit Aston Villa in their back pocket, but the sad truth is that it is Villa’s pockets that are overflowing with the sort of cash our clubs can only dream about, and that is the only currency that now matters in football.

Like it or not, Gerrard being able to take Villa to perhaps a sixth or seven-placed finish in the English Premier League where he is competing against sides with similar budgets will also put him in a stronger position for achieving his dream of managing Liverpool than seeing off one serious rival in Scotland to win another league title.

It may be hard for fans of Rangers to swallow, as it was for Celtic fans when Rodgers left, but the Old Firm have an opportunity to position themselves as stepping stones for managers in much the same way that they have when trying to attract players.

Given the proximity to England, the Scottish Premiership has proven to be a shop window that English clubs will look to, and their time here has allowed both Rodgers and Gerrard to land what many would consider to be plum jobs in perhaps the biggest league in the world, certainly in terms of the cash flowing through it.

With Rodgers, his time at Celtic allowed him to rack up trophies, all the while producing the sort of attacking football the fans love and rehabilitated his own image along the way after a bruising exit from Liverpool. The ‘lifelong Celtic fan’ schtick he enjoyed projecting was the one charge that could be laid against him, and perhaps was what made his exit a shock to real fans who had been sucked in by it all.

In Gerrard’s case, he was unquestionably fortunate to land such a huge job as his first role in management, with his huge cachet as a player landing him a job he otherwise would be considered massively underqualified for.

There were more than a few bumps along the way, with his record of one trophy in nine being held against him, justifiably. But he will – perhaps rightly - argue that it was the one trophy that truly mattered to the Rangers support, and that on his CV was enough to convince Villa to take a chance on him.

It shows that what managers do in Scotland with either side of the Old Firm counts for something down south, even if it isn’t a direct pathway to the really top jobs.

That may seem like thin gruel, but if it is enough to attract managers of the calibre of Rodgers who are looking to relaunch their careers, or high-profile figures such as Gerrard looking to launch their management journey, then perhaps that is no bad thing.