Steven Gerrard knew when he accepted the Rangers job in May that his first pre-season was crucial for a number of reasons.
The weeks running up to the start of the 2018-19 campaign would soon fly by, so it was important to begin work immediately on overhauling the squad.
Gerrard is currently in the process of doing just that and has already made five signing since his appointment was announced last month.
Alan McGregor, Scott Arfield, Ovie Ejaria, Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic have all joined the Scottish giants in recent weeks.
Shifting the deadwood is also one of Gerrard’s biggest tasks. Some of those who played for Rangers this season simply weren’t up to the job.
However, it’s not just ins and outs that Gerrard is working hard on at the moment.
After analysing the team’s performances during the final weeks of the 2017-18 season, Gerrard was left alarmed by one thing in particular.
What Gerrard has told his squad ahead of pre-season
According to the Daily Record, Gerrard has told his new squad they need to shape up after feeling they were left flagging by a much fitter Celtic side last season.
It’s reported that he delivered his ‘damning assessment’ of the team as he touched down in Spain on Sunday ahead of what looks set to be an intense 10-day pre-season training campaign.
Gerrard doesn’t believe that Rangers were fit enough to challenge for major honours last season and has set about the process of changing that.
He’s recruited a Jordan Milsom from Liverpool as his new head of performance and is intent on ensuring his squad are fitter than ever ahead of another long season.
Gerrard knows the importance of fitness levels
“The fitness is the thing that struck me most when watching them last season,” he told reporters. “You look at the group and areas where you can improve it and fitness is definitely one of them.
“I watched Rangers with my own eyes close up in the game against Celtic and it was glaringly obvious to me that Celtic were fitter and stronger on that occasion.
“If you want to play at the top end and, fight for trophies, be in the running when the big prizes are given out, compete against the best the first thing you have to do as a footballer is be fit.
“You need to be ready for the challenges at the top level. If the fitness is not there where do you go? It’s probably a good reason why Celtic have been quite successful.
“It would certainly have helped them if they’re fitter, stronger, in good shape, finely tuned and ready for the demands of football at the top level.
“If you’ve got all your squad finely tuned and in that shape then it will certainly help you. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Jordan (Milsom) who is an expert in that field.
“You can’t get any more qualified than Jordan. Not just the qualifications but the way he goes about it, his mannerisms in the one-on-ones with the player and the dynamics he has in the gym and outside on the pitch.
“His delivery is spot on and he’s an expert in his field.”
The Rangers players can expect a nightmarish pre-season, then.
However, they might be thanking their new gaffer come August 5, when they take on Aberdeen in their first league match of the new campaign.
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