Colin Hendry shares nagging Rangers transfer doubt as he insists Gio van Bronckhorst deserves a free pass

They’re going toe-to-toe on the pitch for the Premiership title.

And today at Hampden, only a fool would predict the winner in the Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final.

After a decade of dominance from Celtic it was Rangers who cruised to the title last season – and both Glasgow clubs are back on an even keel.

But in terms of the impact and influence Ange Postecoglou and Gio van Bronckhorst have had on their teams, Colin Hendry reckons it’s NOT a level playing field.

The former Rangers and Scotland defender played alongside van Bronckhorst at Ibrox under Dick Advocaat and won a Treble in 1999.

He’s full of admiration for Gers’ charge to the Europa League semi-final after their stunning midweek win over Braga.

But Hendry is hurting as much as any Ibrox punter after the current side relinquished their position at the top of the league to the Hoops.

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Despite their brilliant run in Europe, Hendry can’t believe Rangers have allowed Postecoglou’s side to take control of the league trophy’s destiny.

Having already won the Premier Sports Cup, the Aussie is odds-on to secure the title. And if he emerges victorious today he will take a huge step towards racking up a clean sweep of domestic honors.

But if that happens, Hendry insists van Bronckhorst WON’T be to blame.

The legendary Scotland centre-back says this isn’t the Dutchman’s team.

And he believes the Gers boss hasn’t been afforded the same luxury as his city rival when it comes to putting his imprint on his side.

On the eve of a critical game for his former team-mate, Hendry told MailSport : “We were in a position of strength and power last season. The fact we aren’t now is not down to Giovanni.

“I heard Stephen Robinson talk last week about how he can’t be judged until he gets his team in. That’s at St Mirren!

“Gio must be thinking that too – and he’s at one of the biggest clubs in the country. They’ve done brilliantly well in Europe. But Gio still has to be able to bring in his players from him. This is not his team, it’s still Stevie Gerrard’s team.

“They won the league last season by a stretch and were brilliant. But a new boss has come in across the way [at Celtic] and been able to put his stamp on it.

“That’s why it’s unfair on Giovanni –he’s not had the same opportunity as the Celtic manager. Any manager would want to do that.

“It hasn’t stopped Rangers competing in Europe so I take my hat off to them for that. But the bread and butter is the league and if you’re not top then you give away the bragging rights.

“The league is nearly done. It’s not over until the fat lady sings but she’s up there with the mic about to do her first tune.

“I feel for Gio because he has not been able to do what the guy across the road has done.”

Last weekend, eight of Celtic’s starting XI in their 7-0 Premiership win over St Johnstone were Postecoglou signings, either in the summer or January.

Having had one less window, only one of van Bronckhorst’s recruits – Aaron Ramsey – played in Rangers’ 4-0 victory at St Mirren.

Hendry isn’t even convinced the Welshman’s high-profile loan from Juventus would have been the Ibrox gaffer’s idea.

And he says the lack of impact from £35million Manchester United wonderkid Amad Diallo also can’t be placed at the manager’s door.

He said: “When I played with Gio at Rangers, Dick Advocaat came in and stamped his authority all over the team by bringing in his own men.

“And he got success off the back of that. Obviously the club are in a different place now financially and there will be more restrictions on Gio.

Aaron Ramsey arrives at Ibrox.
Aaron Ramsay

“As Rangers or Celtic manager, there always has to be a balance between the team you inherit in relation to the results you achieve.

“I’m not sure what constraints Giovanni is under in terms of his recruitment. But the Ramsey one doesn’t strike me as a Gio signing. He’s only had one window, with Ramsey, Diallo and James Sands coming in.

“The American kid on loan, you can put down as a bit untried, untested, unsure.

“But the other two, with Ramsey coming from Juventus and Diallo from Manchester United, you’re looking for those two to produce.

“To be fair, Ramsey is now having an influence as he showed against Celtic and Braga.

“They’re not players you’re taking a cheap punt on – they’re players of a certain ilk.

“Gio can’t be personally responsible for what they’ve produced at Rangers so far.”

Hendry might live in England but he’s still passionate about Scottish football and Rangers.

He can’t wait to see the Old Firm lock horns again at Hampden and admits the outcome is more important for Rangers.

He said: “People down here ask me if this is a big game.

“It’s a massive game, especially for Rangers who have to win in order to have a real chance of winning something this season.

“There’s huge pressure on Rangers but that’s the size of the club.

“It’s something I felt when I arrived at Ibrox as a player.

Rangers and Celtic are in the top four clubs in the UK. I don’t care if fans of Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea or whoever come back at me on that. It’s true.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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