Tuesday, June 28, 2022

A New Dawn For Rangers FC

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Kenny Stewart
Chief Football writer for The 4th Official. Always honest and won't shy away from the truth.

Aston Villa came calling, wanting to take Steven Gerrard as their new manager. Before anyone had time to digest it, off walked the Rangers manager into the sunset. He took his entire backroom staff with him, with the exception of Jermain Defoe.

The notion that this move was suggested to Steven Gerrard on the Sunday night and was done and dusted by the following Wednesday is a nonsense.

I’m sorry but you simply don’t get half a dozen men with young families, with kids at school etc to all agree to upsticks within the space of a day.

They’ve known they were for the off. They had to. It’s inconceivable to me that you can get that off the ground in such a short space of time.

My guess is Gerrard had already told his backroom staff at some point after the defeat to Malmo in the Champions League that it would suit him to go and he would want his coaches to go with him.

We move on. No individual is bigger than Glasgow Rangers. In truth I’m sorry to see him go as I liked him. However, by the levels of performance this season, it’s perhaps for the best.

A new broom. Sweep the deadwood out and usher in a new era. That’s the way at any football club but at Rangers we have no time to dwell on the past. He’s gone.

Welcome, Giovanni Van Bronckhorst. A man that knows Rangers Football very well indeed having played here under Dick Advocaat’s tenure. It feels like a perfect fit doesn’t it?

A Rolls Royce of a football player. Oddly my abiding memory of him as a Rangers player is his Old Firm debut. A dour nil-nil borefest of a game but his performance on the left hand side of the midfield was exceptional that day. Didn’t give the ball away once and did his job quietly and efficiently.

He went on to achieve truly great things in his career. Winning the Premier League along with the FA Cup in England under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal then moving to Barcelona where he achieved even more than he’d already achieved at Feyenoord, Rangers and of course Arsenal.

He won two La Liga titles, two Spanish Cups and of course the ultimate, the Champions League in 2006.

He won 106 caps for his country, he even captained them to the World Cup final. Taking into account all he achieved as a player, he won fourteen trophies before he retired. He won cups and titles in four different countries. That is the mark of a winner.

Now that is the measure of the new Rangers manager. He achieved excellence all the way through his career. The CV he has is up there with the very best. A wonderful player who could play in centre midfield, left midfield and was equally good at left back also.

As soon as he retired, he joined Feyenoord’s coaching staff. He worked his way through the ranks from youth coach all the way to being first team coach and manager.

He was there for four years and in that time secured five trophies. He won the Eredivisie, two cups and two Super Cups.

Feyenoord are Netherland’s third biggest force in football. Ajax of Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven are the big two. Those two clubs dwarf Feyenoord on finances. So much so in fact that Van Bronckhorst won the league with a budget a third the size of Ajax and half that of PSV.

The season after he won the league, he took them into the Champions League. They won their first game against Napoli, but sadly for them, they’d sold a number of players in the previous summer, and due to their finances and a lack of a scouting system, they didn’t replace the same quality with a similar standard of players.

Managing Feyenoord for four years will stand him in good stead for the job at Rangers. He knows the club, he’s managed a big club already and he was successful there. He understands and acknowledges the fact that Rangers must win trophies.

The embarrassment on Sunday against Hibs was an horrific display from those in the Royal blue. Three nil down after thirty seven minutes against a team that hadn’t played for a month is simply unacceptable.

The result was only compounded by Connor Goldson’s comments after the game. My take on those remarks by our vice captain is that it’s an outrageous thing to say.

No one is denying he’s telling the truth. No one that’s watched Rangers this season in fact could contradict what Goldson said.

The truth is staring us all in the face. Morelos’ performance was a disgrace on Sunday. Pathetic actually. The body language from a number of them has been worryingly negative since the start of the season so I can wholly understand Goldson’s frustrations but do us all a favour, pal… keep that shit inhouse.

All he’s done is manage to put his teammates under extra pressure and scrutiny. He’s put himself under the most pressure actually but everyone will be under the microscope now. This week now has the potential to be made something much bigger than it actually is.

I don’t want Rangers players airing our dirty laundry in public. Not ever. It really isn’t a good look at all and tells every single opponent that this Rangers team is in a bit of disarray. To suggest the mindset at half time was one of defeatism is unacceptable to anyone connected to Rangers.

Why would our vice captain think that’s the correct course of action after yet another insipid display at Hampden Park (We now sit with one win in ten at the national stadium, by the way)?

The one good thing that came out of that fiasco on Sunday is that our new manager witnessed it with his own eyes. He also heard Goldson’s comments aftermatch as he was asked about them in his press conference on Monday. His reply to the question on the remarks was a good one saying that if players didn’t have the hunger to be at this club, then they’d find him a very difficult manager to deal with.

That was music to my ears to be honest. He also said he was a strict disciplinarian. Well, that for me is also tremendous news as I think we’re all beginning to get the feeling there’s a few in that Rangers squad with perhaps too much influence and a number of them that aren’t giving their all in games. Players aren’t applying themselves properly and dare I say it lacking professionalism.

He will weed that out very quickly I hope. If people don’t want to be at Ibrox or don’t have the hunger as Goldson put it (I’d call it ambition, or lack thereof) then they don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out.

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 20: Steven Gerrard speaks to Ashley Young of Aston Villa after their sides victory in the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion at Villa Park on November 20, 2021 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
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Steven Gerrard is gone, Gio Van Bronckhorst is the new Rangers manager. He has a better CV than Gerrard. His backroom staff look superb on paper. It’s an exciting time and with all taken into account, the vast majority of Rangers fans appear delighted with the way this has turned out.

The proof is in the pudding of course. Results will define how GVB does in the manager’s hotseat. I think he will do just fine but he does have a tough run of games to start. He has some tough away fixtures coming up and naturally now he has to see who’s with him in his quest for success and who doesn’t fancy getting into the trenches with him.

The truth of it is that there’s a fair few of his squad out of contract at the end of this season and as many with their contract ending in 2023.

That in itself is a bit of an issue as those out of contract at the end of next season need to be re-signed or moved on when the transfer window opens next July.

Van Bronckhorst and Ross Wilson have that to attend to as well as trying to motivate this shower that let us all down so badly on Sunday.

The fact Hibs coasted to their win in the semi final would’ve been a real reality check for our new manager. Players simply didn’t give their all and those that didn’t know exactly who they are. They also know who they were letting down too but it didn’t stop them from effectively downing tools. To come out with such a lacklustre performance when your new boss is watching you, well that boggles the mind.

When your vice captain comes out and tells the media that he knew the game was over at half-time then it tells us all that the mentality is weak in that dressing room. He was aiming that at those around him and to be fair to him; he was one of the few you could say was giving 100% on the day. It didn’t stop him having a very poor game himself though to be honest but he wasn’t the worst by any means.

Let that game be a watershed moment for this season. Gerrard is gone and that kind of result has been coming all season and we all knew it. Constantly losing the first goal in games catches up with you. It did against Aberdeen the other week and it happened again on Sunday. It has to stop right now.

The new manager is in, Rangers and Ross Wilson go him in very quickly. It was all done and dusted in a week and that’s good going. He starts with a home game against Sparta Prague. It won’t be easy but he had a chance to stamp his authority on the team if nothing else here.

It’s a great chance to get European football after Christmas again and going by what GVB said, he feels European football is vitally important to him too.

There appears to have been a malaise that’s crept in under Gerrard. It’s up to Van Bronckhorst to kick some backsides while giving others a cuddle to get a reactions needed from these players.

I for one am delighted our new manager is Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, he’s a winner and always has been. If he can emulate his successes as a player and as the Feyenoord manager, then Rangers are in good, strong hands.

All in all, having watched that omnishambles on Sunday this does look like the time where change was needed. Perhaps the new Aston Villa manager knew that himself. He probably knew he couldn’t and wasn’t getting a tune out of that squad.

It’s the best squad of players in Scotland by a country mile you know. If our new gaffer can get them playing, get them organised, get them pressing and get them defending properly then he’ll be even more of a hero to the Rangers support than he already is.

Good luck to Gio. You have a job on your hands but if you do it to the best of your ability you’ll be exalted by all of us. The opportunity to stamp his authority on this squad, a squad that’s let us down really pretty badly this season is there. Grasp it and make your mark.

We sit four points clear. Here’s what I want. I want us to be at least that amount of points clear going into the last game before the winter break. That’ll see us going into that game knowing no matter what happens we will restart the campaign at the top of the table.

However, it also gives GVB the opportunity to go there and win. If we get seven points clear, Celtic will find it very difficult to recover from such a massive setback. Particularly with that squad of players they have.

That’s the aim. At least match them game on game until we play them. Go there and wreck their season. Gio, you know what to do. You have our undivided backing.

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