Steven Gerrard: What will Rangers look like? Pick your preferred XI

Rangers
Rangers have conceded just once in their four Europa League matches thus far

Steven Gerrard and his director of football Mark Allen have systematically dismantled the squad they inherited at Ibrox. But is the one they have replaced it with any better?

Progress through two rounds of the Europa League suggests it is, but greater challenges await than those provided by Macedonia's Shkupi and NK Osijek of Croatia.

This weekend's visit to Aberdeen is a tough way to begin the Premiership season, but it will serve as a good indicator of Rangers' mettle.

How will Gerrard's team look? And which players would you select for the game at Pittodrie?

Addressing the main weakness

Rangers conceded 50 league goals last season - double the tally shipped by Celtic - with an inability to stop crosses and a recurring failure to deal with balls into the box their main downfall.

So the defence seems as good a place to start a revolution as any. The backline has been almost entirely overhauled and only deposed goalkeeper Wes Foderingham can have any cause for complaint.

However, Scotland international Allan McGregor showed against Osijek on Thursday why he has been brought back and, if Rangers can find a buyer for Foderingham this month, that's a decent piece of business.

With David Bates leaving for Hamburg and Russell Martin, Bruno Alves and Fabio Cardoso all no longer at Ibrox, Gerrard and Allen have brought in central defenders they believe can be a commanding presence.

Connor Goldson, who arrived from Brighton, looks like he could fulfil that criteria of a defender who wants to win headers, block shots and organise those around him.

Another recruit, Nikola Katic, has shown his aerial ability, too, though Gerrard remains keen to bring in a left-sided central defender, perhaps with a view to playing three at the back at times.

Former Liverpool full-back Jon Flanagan is a known quantity for Gerrard, and looks solid despite playing on the opposite flank to his favoured right. That may quell his attacking instincts but, with James Tavernier bombing forward from right-back, it could make sense for Flanagan to be more defensively-minded.

In front of them, Lassana Coulibaly has been signed from Angers to win tackles and break up play in the middle of the park. Judging him on the strength of a couple of competitive games is risky, but his no-nonsense approach has already endeared him to the Rangers support.

Spoilt for choice in midfield

Gerrard is not short of options in midfield and, with the Mali player and Ryan Jack already looking like first picks, there seems to only really be one place up for grabs.

Ross McCrorie would seem an unlikely fit alongside those two, so his playing time could be limited for now, while Gerrard has already indicated he would like to send Greg Docherty out on loan and Jordan Rossiter's dreadful injury problems persist.

A more likely candidate would be a more attacking style of player.

Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria has occupied the number 10 role in the last two games, with Scott Arfield and Josh Windass featuring only as substitutes and Graeme Dorrans still unavailable.

It would seem only a run to the Europa League group stage is likely to bring about a sufficiently heavy fixture schedule to keep all those players happy.

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'Gerrard may have to settle for second best'

On the evidence thus far, Gerrard will not be slow to make a difficult decision.

He has already let his players know when they have not met his standards, with an interval rollicking during the friendly win over Wigan underlining the steeliness of a man unwilling to accept second best.

Ultimately, though, that might be what Gerrard will have to settle for in his first season at Ibrox. Halting Celtic's bandwagon is surely beyond him.

He may have spent significant cash on his defence, but relying heavily on young, on-loan talent elsewhere in the team won't have Brendan Rodgers quaking with fear.

Knowing Gerrard as he does, though, the Celtic manager will surely expect a more spirited challenge from their city rivals than over the last two seasons.

Success for the Rangers manager will not be defined by the destination of the league title. Rather, it will be shaped by the manner in which they achieve the bare minimum of finishing runners-up and, even better, winning one of the cups.

His managerial career has started well. Beating Osijek, particularly, was an impressive achievement.

But Gerrard won't be fooled into thinking he has cracked it. Much hard work lies ahead and he will know a few bad results will bring criticism and pressure he will rarely have encountered.

Pick your preferred Rangers XI

Rangers start their Premiership campaign at Aberdeen on Sunday. But who would you pick in the starting XI and in what shape?

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