THERE's no doubt that the loss of Steven Gerrard to Aston Villa will be a major blow to the Rangers fans and probably the players too.

When it was rumoured, I wondered if the job would really be of interest to him as Villa are in a difficult place sitting 16th in the Premier League. Rangers are certainly a bigger club, with title- winning hopes and European matches to enjoy, but there’s no doubt that two factors would have made this job a major attraction for Gerrard.

First, it’s a management position in the world’s biggest league, and second, he’s going back to his home country and will be closer to his family.

Nevertheless, it’s a risk for him as we can see how precarious the top jobs are in the English Premier League with 25 per cent of the managers having already been dismissed just three months into the season.

One aspect that the top managers soon realise is that you become a candidate for jobs and are pursued by clubs when your stock is at its highest level. This is generally the time to move on and there have been many examples of this over the years. Brendan Rodgers was in such a situation with Celtic. He was in a comfortable position but decided to take advantage of his status by accepting the Leicester job, even although it was going to be much tougher to achieve success than being at Celtic.

I think Gerrard probably thought, or was advised, that having won a major historic league title and sitting top of the Premiership, this was the ideal time to move on, as his next move will be to a bigger English club if he does well with Villa. I believe Liverpool will be more likely to consider him if he succeeds at Aston Villa rather than Rangers.

Aston Villa have rich owners and I’m sure Gerrard would have been having detailed discussions on the available transfer funds when he was discussing his position with his new employers. It was obviously a crucial factor that the Villa chief executive, Christian Purslow, was at Liverpool as managing director when Gerrard was a player and I’m sure they know each other well.

Purslow would certainly have been keeping an eye on how Gerrard was doing at Rangers and would therefore, have recommended him to the owners as the ideal man to take Villa forward. Having spent £90 million in the summer, it would be expected that the team would be making a challenge for a European spot.

The expectation levels are an important factor in the Premier League in England and Purslow would be aware of the pressure that Gerrard endured both as a player and also managing one of the Old Firm.

With the funds received for Jack Grealish I’m sure the January spend will be considerable as he really needs to get Villa out of the relegation zone. It won’t be easy but he could get a good reaction based on how well he has already done as a manager and also the respect that his playing career will convey to this squad of players.

The timing of his departure is unsettling for Rangers. The fact Gerrard has taken his complete management team with him will leave the club in disarray unless they have a quick solution to who will succeed him. It’s really difficult to determine who the strong candidate will be but those who have been mentioned most are Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Frank Lampard, Derek McInnes and Russell Martin.

Van Bronckhorst is now favourite and he’s a strong candidate with a good reputation, but there’s no doubt that being manager of Rangers or Celtic brings tremendous pressure and the board will need to do their due diligence to determine if he has both the managerial nous and the necessary character to handle such a position.

This is the difficult part because an error of judgment becomes an immediate benefit to their major rivals. Gerrard was certainly a good appointment and with the financial importance of winning the title this season with qualification into the Champions League group stage, making the right decision is crucial, for both sporting and financial reasons.

And another thing

SCOTLAND’S 2-0 victory over  Moldova was an excellent result because it was exactly what we required. We didn’t want to have to go into the Denmark game looking to have to get something considering how they are playing.

Manager Steve Clarke got the team right and the tactics. There were some outstanding performances from Nathan Patterson and John McGinn, and Craig Gordon deserves huge credit too.

That’s five wins in a row now, so confidence will be high in the camp.