Wayne Rooney has showered Steven Gerrard with praise after Rangers were crowned Scottish champions and believes the club’s form in Europe has been ‘even more impressive’ than their domestic triumph this season.
Celtic’s goalless draw away to Dundee United on Sunday confirmed the league title would be heading back to Ibrox for the first time in ten years.
It’s taken Gerrard just two-and-a-half years in management to get his hands on major silverware and his legendary former England team-mate, Rooney, will no doubt hope for similar success after a promising start in charge of Derby County.
‘I think clearly he’s done a fantastic job to bring Rangers to the title for the first time in ten years,’ Rooney told reporters ahead of Derby’s Championship clash with Barnsley on Wednesday night.
‘It’s an incredible job and even more impressive is their form in Europe.
‘He’s got them in a good position so everyone knows the job Steven’s done is brilliant and I’m sure he wants more.’
Rooney rejected claims he and Gerrard come under more intense scrutiny than rival managers due their high-profile playing careers and believes their time in the limelight actually puts them in a ‘good position’ to deal with criticism.
‘I think every manager comes under scrutiny,’ Manchester United’s all-time record goalscorer responded.
‘It’s part of the game and it’s something you have to expect as a manager and you have to be ready for it.
‘The big difference for the likes of myself, Steven and Frank [Lampard] is that we’ve had it all the way through our playing careers as well so we’re in a good position to be able to deal with the scrutiny.’
Gerrard has urged his players to quickly put their title win to the back of their minds and focus on the ‘next challenge’ as they prepare to do battle with Slavia Prague for a place in the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday night.
‘We are in March and I need them to keep delivering until the end of the season,’ the ex-Liverpool and England captain told Rangers’ official website.
‘We need to enjoy this and get ourselves ready for the next challenge. Glasgow Rangers is about winning and we all live under that pressure, and that responsibility, but it is about what is next and it is about me getting these players ready for what is next.
‘I want to get into the last eight of the Europa League and that is the next challenge and the focus is very much on that.
‘But everyone deserves to enjoy their time, no more importantly than the supporters – the supporters deserve this for what they have been through.
‘There is more to come and the next thing for me, when you win, it is always about what is next, and I am so proud of the players first and foremost – they are the most important people inside the club.’