Every word of Gio van Bronckhorst’s Rangers press conference as he demands respect for referees

Half a session on the training pitch at Auchenhowie to prepare.

But no half measures at Hampden as his players dug out a 120-minute lung-buster to ensure Rangers’ season will go the full distance to the Scottish Cup Final.

Gio van Bronckhorst has revealed how he only had one shortened stint on the grass at the Rangers Training Center to prepare for last weekend’s sensational semi final victory over Celtic.

Just three days after the energy-sapping Europa League quarter final victory over Braga the Dutchman watched his players go to extra time again and reach deep into their reserves to dump their greatest rivals at the national stadium.

He reckons it’s all about mentality. Now he’s urging his troops to dig even deeper and ensure last week’s shot in the arm for the season wasn’t for nothing.

Victory over Motherwell this afternoon will pile the pressure on Celtic ahead of the Hoops’ trip to Dingwall on Sunday.

With six days to recover from last week’s 240-minute marathon there will be no excuses at Fir Park – not even with his squad wearing thinner by the week.

A free midweek has given the Ibrox squad valuable time to prepare for not only Motherwell but next Thursday’s trip to face RB Leipzig in the Europa League semi final.

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Not that they needed it ahead of their Hampden High. Here is van Bronckhorst’s pre-match press conference in full.

Only had half a training session ahead of the semi final – does that show the coaching and ethos is well instilled in the team?

GVB: It was only half a session on the pitch. But of course there are more ways to prepare a team, also with videos.

So it was a short period but I think we prepared the players well. They prepared themselves really well, also mentally. That’s a big factor when you have big games in short periods. I was really happy with the preparation we had last week and we just have to keep going and do the same for all the games that are coming.

Last week was a huge boost for us. It was very positive to get into the (Europa League) semi-final and into the final of the Scottish Cup.

That will be our last game of the season, where we can win a trophy, so that’s very good for us.

A win is always positive for the morale. We were able to rest this week. To be playing twice a week for almost the whole season is very demanding for all of us.

But we are looking forward to the last weeks of the season with so many important games.

Hampden win given players confidence?

GVB: Of course it was a huge boost for us, very positive to win the semi final and be in the final of the cup this year. That will be our last game of the season where we can win a trophy so for us that’s very good. Of course, a win is always positive for the morale so it was a good week for us and we were able to rest this week as playing twice a week for almost the whole season is very demanding for us so we’re looking forward to the last weeks of the season.

How happy are you with everyone agreeing to bring Motherwell game forward?

GVB: I’m very happy about it. We are grateful to everyone involved – Motherwell, SPFL the police – in getting that game brought forward because it’s good for all of us. It gives us more time to prepare for the Leipzig game on Thursday. We have to do the same for any Scottish club involved in Europe.

Squad update?

GVB: After the semi-final against Celtic where Aaron Ramsey had to come off unfortunately with a hamstring problem we have assessed him this week and hopefully we’ll have him back around Leipzig home game. We also had a problem with Kemar Roofe after the game. He felt his knee from him and it’s the same for him-he will be out for some weeks and hopefully back for me to pick around the Leipzig home game.

That limits your striking options?

GVB: Yes it does with Alfredo Morelos already out and Kemar out for a couple of weeks we have less options up front but as always we have to go on and make sure we embrace the challenge. The atmosphere in the group is good and we have to make sure we pick the best team for every game. We are very positive despite injuries added to the list and the players who are available are capable and know the task ahead.

Is it a big chance for Fashion Sakala?

GVB: I have played well in that position in the last couple of games. We have limited options up front but other players have to stand up and be given more time to play but that’s why you have a big squad – for moments like this. When players are not available others have to show their quality.

Rangers’ Fashion Sakala celebrates the Scottish Cup win at full-time

Alex Lowry future?

GVB: Alex is one of the big talents we have coming through in the Academy and we are in talks for him to sign a new contract because I think he will be an important player for the future of this club. Talks are still in process so hopefully we will have positive news in the coming weeks.

Is the introduction of VAR a big positive for Scottish game?

GVB: I’m a big fan of VAR because it will help the referees in their decisions and I’m really happy it’s coming to the league after the World Cup. It will be much easier for referees in difficult moments so I’m very positive.

Is scrutiny of referees having a negative impact on Scottish game?

GVB: It’s a big game, there are many big decisions to be made in the game, that will always be a talking point.

Not only here, but you can see it in the big leagues. That’s why VAR is important because it takes away some of the decisions that are made to help the referees.

It also shows how important the game is, especially when you play in Europe or in big games against Celtic in the league or in the cup competitions.

There always has to be respect for everyone involved in the game, the players, the referees.

Referee Bobby Madden and Callum McGregor during the Scottish Cup clash with Rangers

It’s also football. Football is emotional, people like to talk about the game.

But I think you have to have respect for one another and the decisions that are made.

That’s the most important thing when you talk about it in papers or in pubs.

Talking about it is a huge part of football. It’s good because everyone can be a manager, everyone can be a referee.

Talking about different situations, squad selections or talking points in the game.

That’s the beauty of football and we don’t have to take that away.

John Lundstram and Steven Davis?

GVB: I’m the coach, I will put him John the position I want. His development in the role this season has become stronger through his performances. I am happy with John’s performances, I am also happy for Steven Davis that he’s back in top form after a difficult spell. The games with Northern Ireland, also the games we played with St Mirren and Celtic have helped him to be at his best so I am really happy with both of them.


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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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