Chris Sutton takes aim at Steven Gerrard over Rangers exit again amid spending claims

Rangers have acted quickly to replace Steven Gerrard following the manager’s move to Aston Villa, with Giovanni van Bronckhorst taking over in the Ibrox dugout.

Former Gers player Van Bronckhorst moved back to Glasgow after spells in China and the Netherlands, and will take charge of his first game against Hibernian in the Scottish League Cup semi-final.

The reigning champions remain top of the league, four points ahead of their closest challengers, but former Celtic and Aston Villa striker Chris Sutton has been critical of Gerrard’s decision to move south of the border.

Indeed, ahead of the new manager beginning his tenure, Sutton has claimed his predecessor left the club in the lurch after a period of big spending.

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Gerrard has left Rangers with the team top of the table
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PA)

“I wasn’t surprised to see Steven Gerrard go to Aston Villa but there’s no doubt he left Rangers in the lurch,” Sutton wrote for the Daily Record.

“What happens next will decide whether Gerrard abandoned ship or did Rangers a favour.

“Giovanni van Bronckhorst might just be an upgrade on the former manager and give the club the kick they look like they need this season.

“Or it could herald a period of upheaval at Ibrox that hands the impetus back across to Celtic.”

Sutton questioned whether Van Bronckhorst would be granted the same spending power as Gerrard, pointing to the expensively-assembled squad with which the last manager won the title.

Ryan Kent cost more than £6m from Liverpool, while the likes of Ianis Hagi and Kemar Roofe also set the club back seven-figure fees.

“The wage bill went through the roof and [Gerrard] was allowed to spend serious cash on the likes of Ryan Kent and Ianis Hagi,” Sutton wrote.

“Will Van Bronckhorst be allowed to do the same? You’d doubt it.

“Rangers have managed to find money from somewhere in recent years but the noises coming out of the club suggest they’ll need to sell at some point.”

Ianis Hagi was one of the expensive signings who Gerrard brought to Ibrox
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PA)

Gerrard’s new club have also been big spenders of late, with Dean Smith bringing in a number of new players in an attempt to make up for the loss of Jack Grealish.

The incoming manager’s first Villa Park starting XI included club record signing Emi Buendia and £25m striker Danny Ings, with fellow summer arrival Leon Bailey named among the substitutes.

“Straightaway there are tough decisions for me to face but I’m really looking forward to doing it,” Gerrard said following his appointment at Villa Park.

“Compared to what we have done this season, we need more individually and collectively. When we do and when the players produce that I am confident you will see change.”

Gerrard took over with his new club just two points above the relegation zone, after defeats in Smith’s last five league games, and the pressure is on him to push the club closer to the top-half berth they occupied for much of last season.

He opened up with a victory against Brighton at Villa Park on Saturday, thanks to late goals from England duo Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings.

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