CARLOS CUELLAR looks through the Rangers squad and sees talent, potential and character. Two stand out with the experience, though.

The group of players that Steven Gerrard has at his disposal this term is the strongest that any Ibrox boss has had for several years.

Indeed, it is the best, both in terms of quality and depth, that has been assembled since Walter Smith guided the Gers to their last league success in 2011 and then handed the reigns to Ally McCoist for what would prove to be an ill-fated tenure on and off the park.

Two members of that particular title winning squad - Allan McGregor and Steven Davis - are now back in blue and attempting to return the silverware to the Ibrox Trophy Room and end the long, agonising wait for supporters.


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Both players may now be in the twilight of their respective careers, but their performances for Gerrard’s side this term have been of the highest standard and they are integral parts of the team that are currently top of the Premiership.

It is because of their abilities in goal and midfield that Gerrard has them in the starting line-up, but the roles that each play behind the scenes cannot be underestimated.

And Cuellar - denied a Premier League medal on the final day of the remarkable 2008 campaign that saw Rangers reach Manchester - is confident his former team-mates will continue to lead by example for the Light Blues this term.

“I think they can cope with it because there is a very good balance within the squad,” he said.”There is a good mix between younger players and very experienced ones who have done so much in football and who understand this club. The mix is perfect.

“It was so happy when I saw that Allan McGregor and Steven Davis had come back because they can be so important for the club. They have the knowledge of what it is like at this club and can pass that on. They also have big experience from the English Premier League.

“Players like that are vital. They act as teachers for the younger players and can push the rest of the squad. They know what it takes to win and also how to manage the difficult situations, because those will come in any season at any club.

“To have experience like Allan and Steven inside the dressing room will keep everyone together and going in the right direction even when the result doesn’t come. “

The 12 months that Cuellar spent at Ibrox saw him become a hero to the Ibrox crowd but his Rangers career was short and sweet.


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An £8million move to Aston Villa came just weeks after he lifted his second honour as Rangers added the Scottish Cup to the League Cup they won earlier in the campaign.

And the Spaniard has fond memories of those that helped him following his move from Osasuna.

Cuellar said: “Davie Weir did that role in my time at Rangers. He was a very important figure in the dressing room.

“For me, personally, Nacho Novo was obviously a huge help in terms of adapting to the culture, the language and showing me how a big a club this is.

“But Davie was someone who understood everything at Rangers. He would tell me about the pressure at the club and the obligation to win every game – that every single match mattered. He was very important on and off the field at that time.”

Cuellar may only have spent one season at Ibrox but Rangers still holds a special place in his heart these days.

He returned to Glasgow for the Legends game against Liverpool on Saturday and felt for himself the buzz around the club at present.

That, of course, brings its own expectation and pressure, but the 38-year-old is confident Rangers will thrive under it this term.

Cuellar said: “It’s good. It is the best pressure you can feel.

“If you are at Rangers then psychologically you have to be ready to feel that pressure. When you sign for the club you know that you have to fight to try and win every trophy and to be at the top all the time.


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“From what I can see, it looks like the current squad at Rangers are managing that well. It is the same pressure as when I was playing but it is just part of being at a big club. You have an obligation to win. But, as I said, it is a good pressure.”

The weight on the shoulders of Gerrard and his players will only increase as the campaign unfolds and silverware comes into sight.

There is still much to do at Ibrox but the signs are encouraging in Gerrard’s second term as boss.

Cuellar said: “You can see that Rangers are moving in the right direction now. They are doing really well this season. They have come back to Europe again, which is where they ought to be, and they are going to fight for the title.

“They look like a very strong team under Steven Gerrard and I think they can get even stronger with more experience. I spoke to Steven before the match at the weekend and he is such a nice lad. As manager, he looks as though he is really growing into the job and improving all the time.

“It’s a normal situation because he came from coaching the Under-18 squad at Liverpool. To go from that to managing Rangers is a big step, but he took it because he felt inside that he was ready.

“Of course, there are always going to be some ups and downs and that has been the case. But if you look at things overall then it is clear he is going in the right direction to take Rangers back to the top again.”