Gio van Bronckhorst and the Ajax Rangers derby squad hitting while refusing to budge under pressure from Feyenoord

Giovanni van Bronckhorst probably won’t be in the mood to celebrate his birthday, as the Rangers boss turns 47 before Hearts visit on Sunday.

The Dutchman finds himself under scrutiny for the first time since his trouble-free start on the Ibrox bench.

Seven points lost from a possible 12 since the winter break have turned up the heat with Celtic’s midweek thrashing at Parkhead bringing things to a head.

And the champions now face the prospect of being four points behind when they start against the Jambos with the Hoops in action at Motherwell earlier.

But Van Bronckhorst is no stranger to managerial pressure after a rocky start to his first season as boss at Feyenoord.

However, he defied his doubters and ultimately led the club he played for as a player to their first Eredivisie title in almost two decades.

Mikos Gouka is a Rotterdam-based journalist who has covered Feyenoord for 20 years and took time to give sports record a glimpse of the Rangers coach’s time at De Kuip.

And speaking on this week’s edition of the Record Rangers podcast, he recounted how Van Bronckhorst refused to panic or change his approach and his determined attitude led to success.

However, he did not shove that success down the throats of his critics with Gouka admitting that his Mr Nice Guy tag remained.

Van Bronckhorst has been calm in the face of some early ties with questions after the derby that has seen them drop seven points from three games since the winter break.

And so, according to Gouka, he will remain and never become a teacup throwing manager.

Here, we select some of the key points from the podcast which you can listen to in its entirety by clicking here.


“There was a little surprise because we wrote some articles about his sensational start: 13 matches without losing.

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“He was fine, we read some interviews with him and he was in the right place, we thought so, but it started with Ross County’s stoppage time goal and Celtic’s win against Dundee United.

“That changed to knowing that you had to play at Celtic Park with the possibility of losing first place. You can lose that game, but going down 3-0 at halftime was a huge disaster.

“We feel sorry for him because we all think he’s a good person and we hope he has some success, but it’s a doubt because Celtic are favourites.”


“In all the games with Feyenoord he played 4-3-3 with real wingers, but he was also realistic and when he had some defenders who weren’t fast, he couldn’t get them to play too far forward.

“He made some changes when he was working at the Manchester City Group and in China. He doesn’t stick to a plan just because it’s the Dutch way, but in the Netherlands he wasn’t considered defensive.

“Leagues are similar in the Netherlands with Feyenoord and Rangers probably expecting to win nine games out of 10.

“I remember a game that is comparable to the Old Firm. Ajax almost always won in Rotterdam for several years.

“The Dutch fans were yelling at him to attack and drive them off the pitch and go for the throat. He tried several times and lost.

“But there was a match where he took a different approach. Robin van Persie was the center forward and he would drop back a bit, more defensively, and try to catch them on the counterattack. They won 6-2 in Rotterdam!

“Maybe he thought that would be the way against Celtic. I saw a few minutes of the game, but this time it was all about Celtic.”

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“In his first season at Feyenoord he went nine games without a win, but he still believed in his team and stuck to his principles.

“He didn’t wage war in the locker room and had several moments of success so I think he is confident in developing the team and training normally and not making things worse than they are.

“In the period when he couldn’t win in nine games, he was always a gentleman, calm and self-confident.

“We wrote several articles saying that he was not the man and that he was too inexperienced and when he won the Dutch Cup and the title we had an interview and I told him that it was time for revenge.

“But he said he was not that kind of person. He said at the time that it was fine to write that, but he had to stick to the plan and be comfortable with the players.

“I think he’s doing that right now. He’s not panicking. He did not panic as a player. He played at the highest level at Arsenal, Barcelona and knows how to handle it and Rangers fans shouldn’t panic either.

“There are a lot of games that the Rangers will win without a problem and he will pick himself up after this game.”


“I spoke to him several times as a player, but as a coach I saw him three times a week and he is a nice, well-mannered guy.

He is a gentleman in Holland. He never pissed anyone off. He has no enemies, but first we didn’t think he would be a manager.

“When he stopped being a player, he didn’t have much interest in managing a team, but that changed. He started in the Netherlands youth team, U-21, where he was assistant coach.

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“I followed them and sometimes he was absent and I would realize he was abroad so I didn’t think he was focused.

“But Fred Rutten is no longer Feyenoord’s head coach. Van Bronckhorst was his assistant and Jean-Paul van Gastel was the other assistant. Everyone thought that Van Gastel would replace Rotten with Van Bronckhosrt as his number two.

“But after speaking with the board, the people at the club realized that Van Bronckhorst was the one and not Van Gastel and that surprised us.

“Everything changed when he started at Feyenoord, he is now a focused manager, he had some experience abroad and we hope he will be successful in Scotland.”


Steven Gerrard, as a player, was different from Van Bronckhorst. Gerrard was the one with the knife in his teeth, but Gio played 106 games for the Netherlands, so he must be a guy who can prove that too.

“But I talked to him before about his favorite coaches and he always mentioned Frank Rijkaard and Guus Hiddink, who weren’t the type to hit their heads on the door or scream.

Gio van Bronckhorst

“He liked coaches who stuck to the plan and weren’t pushy and took the time to develop the team in a normal way.

“I don’t think this is the time for GVB screaming in the dressing room and making aggressive moments with the players.

“He is not that kind of person. He is always trying to focus on the next game and not antagonize the players.

“I understand that in Scotland, especially when you lose to Old Firm, the fans expect him to do it, but he will keep quiet.

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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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