Gio van Bronckhorst and Rangers ‘dynamic’ rebrand in focus as Ronald de Boer explains how Steven Gerrard was surpassed


Stepping into the shoes left behind at Ibrox by Steven Gerrard was always going to come with a serious risk for the new incumbent that they’d end up falling flat on their face.

Gerrard walked the walk, delivering the trophy the club had waited a decade for.

But former Rangers legend Ronald de Boer reckons pal Gio van Bronckhorst can swagger his way into the hearts of Rangers fans everywhere if he delivers the club’s first European prize in 50 years.

De Boer reckons his old Gers and Dutch national team colleague must have reservations about replacing Gerrard.

Taking over from the Liverpool icon after he’d written his name into Ibrox folklore by securing the club’s 55th title last season is akin to having Frank Sinatra passing you the mic and telling you to give it laldy.

If van Bronckhorst had doubts, however, he’s kept them to himself.

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Confidence in his abilities to do the job may have wavered a little as Rangers’ grasp on last year’s title slipped but de Boer has been impressed by the assured way his friend has gone about reshaping this Light Blues line-up in order to make them serious contenders on the continental stage.

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Now only Eintracht Frankfurt stand in van Bronckhorst’s way as he looks to prove once and for all the Ibrox shoes fit by leading his team to Europa League immortality.

The former Ajax and Barcelona ace – who won a league title and three cups during his four-year Ibrox stay – said: “It’s amazing to see the club back at this stage in Europe.

“I don’t think anyone expected that because in the Europa League there is always very strong contenders, so to get so far is a surprise.

“It’s a great achievement by the players and the staff, so all compliments from my side to Gio and his team.

“Gio is a close friend of mine and I have a good relationship with his assistant Dave Vos from his time at Ajax. Of course Roy Maakay I know well too.



Calvin Bassey with Ryan Kent and first team coach Roy Makaay during training

“So I’m really pleased it’s going so well for them.

“Filling the shoes of Steven Gerrard was not easy but so far they’ve done it with a lot of confidence and a lot of belief.

“They have changed the system a little bit and use the wings a bit more. They are a bit more dynamic than they were with Steven in charge.

“But I think Steven also deserves huge compliments because he was the one who put the foundations for this Rangers team down and allowed Gio to take over.

“With the extra quality that Gio and his staff have brought, they’ve been able to reach the final.

“Would Gio have had to think twice about replacing someone like Gerrard? Yeah of course because when you come in, everything looked fine.

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“There was not a lot wrong. Usually if you go in as a new coach when things have not been going well, there’s lots of room to improve.

“For example, Ten Hag going to United, there’s a lot of areas where he can take the team forward.

“But with Rangers, they were champions, doing well in Europe but no-one expected them to achieve what Gio has done now.

“So I think it was a risk for him.

“I know from playing for clubs like Rangers, Ajax, Barcelona that the only thing that matters is winning the league. That’s all that counts.

“Of course, that’s not happening for Rangers this season but I think this will be more than heel those wounds if they can win the Europa League.

“If they were given the choice, I think the fans would choose to have that Europa League cup in the Trophy Room at Ibrox instead of the league!”



One final message from Gio van Bronckhorst to the players in the Seville sun

De Boer hopes the rise of van Bronckhorst and Ajax boss Erik ten Hag – who will be taking over at Manchester United this summer – is a sign of a Dutch renaissance across Europe.

Holland may have given the world Total Football and the Johan Cruyff-inspired principles that gave birth to Pep Guardiola’s great Barcelona side of the early 2010s.

But there have been signs that the coaching methods reared in the Netherlands have gone out of vogue in recent times.

De Boer’s twin Frank found that to his cost after short-lived spells with Inter Milan and Crystal Palace. Louis van Gaal, Ronald Koeman and Phillip Cocu have also had spells where they found it difficult to make an impression down south and elsewhere.

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But De Boar said: “Everyone here in Holland is very proud of what Gio is doing.

“Dutch managers seem to be on fire right now.

“Obviously Ten Hag is getting his opportunity in England with Manchester United to show that Dutch coaches are good.

“And with Gio, we’re all happy and proud that here we have again a Dutch coach in the final of a European competition.

“We’re happy for Gio, but also for the Dutch ideas of football.

“For a while it seemed people had gone off that.

“Van Gaal is doing well again with the national team but there was a lot of coaches who had the opportunity to go into jobs and unfortunately they got sacked because results weren’t that good or the management was not clicking.

“But this is an opportunity to show Dutch coaches can be successful.

“You know how it goes some times. Maybe it’s the Spanish influence everywhere, then suddenly it’s Italian or German.

“Maybe this is the start of Dutch coaching to come back again.”

Seville is now shaping up for a monster party, with 100,000 Rangers supporters set to swarm over southern Spain.

And de Boer wishes he could join them.

He said: “I still speak a lot with Arthur Numan, who is still involved with Mikey Mols and we’re all very proud of what Gio and his staff have achieved.

“We’re thrilled. We’re happy. If I had the opportunity, I’d go to Seville because it would be amazing to witness that game live and see the party before hand.

“I don’t think I’ll get flights though sadly!”




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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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