Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s sacking was perhaps inevitable after Rangers’ draw at St Mirren two weeks ago.
With the club facing an uphill task to overhaul Celtic’s nine-point lead in the Scottish Premiership, and no European football to look forward to after the World Cup break following a woeful Champions League campaign, Rangers are searching for a new manager.
Whoever takes over will have plenty to think about before Rangers return to action against Hibernian live on Sky Sports on December 15.
Here, Chris Boyd analyzes what went wrong for Rangers and the Dutchman…
Rangers were riding the crest of a wave heading into the summer and there was the opportunity to build on things to take the club forward.
However, the business done was not at the level I expected it to be at. It was clear there was a need for three or four players who went into that starting XI, and while money was spent, I don’t think it was spent well enough.
Rangers’ summer business
Ben Davies – Liverpool
Ridvan Yilmaz – Besiktas
Rabbi Matondo – FC Schalke 04
Antonio Colak – PAOK Salonika
Tom Lawrence – Derby
Malik Tillman – Bayern Munich (loan)
John Souttar – Hearts
I think when you’re spending the sums of money Rangers did, it needs to be on players who are guaranteed to make an impact and hit the ground running – they can’t be a gamble.
Ridvan Yilmaz cost a few million and didn’t get anywhere near the squad for the first couple of months and even since then has been in and out. Ben Davies also commanded a notable fee and hasn’t been one Van Bronckhorst could call upon every week.
With a player like John Souttar, Rangers knew injuries could be an issue, so it shouldn’t be a surprise they have been short at the back at times.
There are still question marks over Rabbi Matondo too and while Malik Tillman has shown what he can do in flashes, it hasn’t been consistent enough.
Tom Lawrence’s injury was unfortunate but if the view from within is his absence is the reason things are not going well then there are bigger problems that I first imagined.
Only Antonio Colak has come in and produced to the level that is required but let’s not forget he was brought in to push Alfredo Morelos on, not to be Rangers’ number one striker.
The next two transfer windows are two of the biggest in Rangers’ history. It is a crucial period coming up and it is vital those involved learn from what has happened.
The answer isn’t bolstering the squad anymore, additions need to be made that will make the starting XI better.
There are some monumental calls to be made and absolutely no margin for error. There also needs to be some serious forward planning for next season as well given the number of players in the last six months of their current deals.
A lot of people spoke about Allan McGregor, Scott Arfield and Steven Davis when they got new deals but Giovanni went back to them time and time again so it tells you all you need to know and that it was good business.
To go another season might be a step too far for some and when you look at the number of players who could leave, players are going to have to come in.
I think the recruitment team will be doing their job, but it is going to have to be a lot better, there’s no doubt about that.
When you go back to August and Rangers beat PSV to qualify for the Champions League group stages, it was a huge step forward for the club.
It would have added to the confidence within the team, knowing they can compete in Europe, following that run to the Europa League final under Van Bronckhorst.
However, the manner of those six defeats in the group stages undoubtedly did not help and would have wiped any of that positivity away.
The players had a dent to their confidence because that’s what happens when you lose games heavily.
We shouldn’t forget the level of quality, especially the likes of Liverpool and Napoli, were a level above what they faced last season. Even Ajax, who brought one of Rangers’ best players at the time, Calvin Bassey, in a deal worth just under £23m shows how big a step up it was.
However, there is a way to lose games and when you concede 22 goals in six defeats, that only adds to the pressure and the frustration from the fans.
At a club like Rangers, supporters will expect you to win every match. However, if that doesn’t happen they will still demand a certain level of performance.
When you look at what was happening in Europe then more recently in the league, it was clear the fans didn’t get what they wanted.
Rangers had all the plaudits last year and this year they had to deal with people being critical. It is part and parcel of being at a big football club if things don’t go right, but I don’t think they’ve handled it well.
If the supporters turn and are not happy – I know from past experience it is extremely difficult to win them back round unless there’s a change.
It is a movie I’ve been in when I was at the club under Paul Le Guen. I’m not comparing the players or coaching staff between now and then, but more what happened when things turned for the worse.
The only option was to make a change. Giovanni knew what the demands were when coming back to the club he played for and there’s no hiding from the fact that the performances haven’t been up to the standards that fans expected.
There’s no doubt at times Van Bronckhorst was unable to call upon his preferred XI due to injuries.
Heading into that draw against St Mirren he was without the likes of Ridvan Yilmaz, Ben Davies and Antonio Colak.
Then there are those long-term absentees such as Filip Helander, Connor Goldson, John Souttar, Ianis Hagi, Nnamdi Ofoborh, Alex Lowry, Tom Lawrence, Fashion Sakala and Kemar Roofe.
Missing players of that caliber will of course impact how he sets up his team and perhaps went onto impact the style of play.
I do have a degree of sympathy for Van Bronckhorst. Domestically, he’s only ever lost against two clubs – Celtic and St Johnstone – and he did great to win the Scottish Cup last season plus reach the Europa League final.
When the level of performance dropped, for a while the results were still okay but when the results also dropped then the problem became a whole lot bigger.
Rangers don’t look as fit as they were last season and with the number of injuries, perhaps questions need to be asked about what goes on in that department going forward.
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