By George Overhill

21st Nov, 2022 | 9:25pm

Giovanni van Bronckhorst clashed with a group of senior Rangers players over indiscipline during the preseason, according to The Athletic.

The Dutchman was sacked on Monday (21 November) just months after reaching the Europa League final and winning the Scottish Cup in May, as his first full season in charge proved to be a struggle.

And the disagreement in the Algarve ahead of the campaign could have “ultimately contributed to his regime toppling” as the dynamic under the title-winning previous management would have not allowed it to happen in the first place.

Jordan Campbell writes in The Athletic on Monday: “Various sources confirmed to The Athletic that there was a disagreement on the final day of the Algarve trip between the manager and a group of senior players.

“The squad had been given a period of free time before they were due to meet at the coach to take them to the airport and fly home.

“Some players played golf or went out to explore the area but a group of senior players stayed in the hotel lobby and drank more alcohol than permitted.

“When Van Bronckhorst found out that his guidance had been ignored there was a back and forth between him and some players about the strictness of his message.

“It was not the sort of major row that caused lasting damage, but people close to the players doubted whether disobedience or backchat would have occurred under Van Bronckhorst’s predecessor Steven Gerrard.”

Disrespect

It is always easier to assess the situation with the benefit of hindsight, and as the report notes, Van Bronckhorst is no pushover.

He disciplined Alfredo Morelos earlier this season, and has had a long career as a player then coach in elite football, but there was a lack of killer instinct in his time in charge.

The best performances under the former Feyenoord boss were undoubtedly the knockout games on the way to the Europa League final last season, especially at Ibrox.

While the Dutchman’s tactical decisions can by no means be dismissed during that run, or his cup success, but on the Bears’ best nights there was an element of atmosphere and occasion that lifted the players.

Too often in games where the crowd were flatter and the opposition less glamorous he failed to motivate his players to get the job done, and that has ultimately been as much the difference between Rangers and Celtic in the league as the Old Firm derbies themselves.

Gerrard had the Light Blues on top in Scotland, and the 55th title was a clear signifier of that, so it cannot be argued that the situation has slipped domestically since.

The vast majority of people who speak about Van Bronckhorst acknowledge what a nice man he is, and perhaps a slight loosening of the discipline at Ibrox has cost him, although he will justifiably point to failures in the transfer market and huge list of injuries in mitigation.

In other Rangers news, Tom English argued with a BBC pundit over the manager situation and the deficit to Celtic.