Giovanni van Bronckhorst shows worrying blind spot over Rangers failure in Sky Sports interview
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s looks set to remain as Rangers boss but has demonstrated a worrying blind spot over the season’s failures so far.
The Ibrox boss sat for an exclusive interview with Sky Sports this week, apparently recorded at the club training ground in a move unlikely to have been sanctioned by the Light Blues if they were planning to replace him imminently, and among other things discussed the negative effect the defeats in Europe have had on the season more widely.
The Gers returned to the group stage of the Champions League for the first time since 2010 this year, via the qualifying rounds, before six straight defeats ended in the worst entry into the competition’s history.
In his Sky Sports interview released on Friday (18 November) he was asked if that had been “damaging” to the bigger picture and said: “Of course, I think it’s for everyone to see.
“Physically we had to play on a much higher level than we are used to. And of course when you play against Napoli, Liverpool and Ajax, and you lose games your mental energy is also effected, which is normal because we are all human beings.
“Whenever you have a set back or disappointing moment it will effect your wellbeing, and that’s been hard because those are things that were harder for us in comparison to what we had last season, and we also had to do it in a shorter period because of the World Cup was coming so it was very demanding.”
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When speaking about the difficulties over the first few months of the season he added: “In the end we wanted to reach the Champions League, which we did. And of course we didn’t foresee the many problems we had with injuries.”
The point about injuries is valid because they are unavoidable and would make any manager’s job harder, while the compressed schedule issue is also a definite hindrance, although one that everyone is affected by.
What van Bronckhorst says about the psychological effects of struggling so badly in multiple matches is also true, but he appears to be overlooking who he is when he says that.
Of course being thrashed over and over is going to be damaging mentally, but he is the man who is paid to mitigate that.
He is talking like a player or a fan, when the job of the manager is to motivate his team to get past those problems, or avoid them happening in the first place if possible.
The former Netherlands captain surely knows more than the average person about leading in top level sport, so it seems strange that he is still portraying the Champions League campaign as something that happened to Rangers, rather than something they competed in.
Clearly, we don’t see what goes on behind closed doors, but his public demeanour during the competition was similar, and was a far cry from the image the team gave off in upsetting the odds through the Europa League last season.
Of course it was going to be difficult to beat Liverpool, Ajax and Napoli, but football doesn’t always go according to form so why behave as if they were powerless to do anything about it?
It is odd for the Rangers boss to be speaking about the Champions League like something him and his players were forced to go through, rather than something they were playing an active role in and, in his own words, wanted to qualify for.
The Dutchman is a good coach and was a top player, but it feels like he badly misjudged how to play things when drawn in a tough group, and concerns will therefore linger about his ability to lead his side out of the domestic slump.
In other Rangers news, the club can soon save £15million to lock in a replacement for one exit-bound player.