Is Giovanni van Bronckhorst the greatest manager Rangers have ever had?
Yes, deliberately provocative opening line there – Walter is the Grand Master and King and no one can take his glory away, Struth won a ridiculous amount of titles, Gerrard won 55 against all odds, Waddell won the ECWC, Wilton won 8 titles and so on and so forth.
So we’re stoking the fires a bit by mentioning Gio as not only among them, but better than them.
This is obviously slight bait – he has won absolutely nothing yet, not a dickie bird, and he’s only been our manager since November, while losing out, it seems, to Celtic in the league.
But when we look at what the man has done in Europe, and in the cup, he’s taken us to two gigantic finals, one being particularly gargantuan, and while there’s no gongs in the trophy room just yet for any of this, he simply has to be considered.
His domestic record has been immense – not incredible and infallible, but very very good, and it’s only a megarich Celtic with a manager they gave an entire pre-season to that managed to best him.
But cup wise? He’s been prodigious.
He’s been able to adapt his team in ways we can’t remember another Rangers manager ever doing.
Gerrard, Walter, even Eck with Helicopter Sunday, all only knew one way to play – there was no adaptability.
He’s played around with about 4 formations, with pretty much outstanding success with each, adapting on the fly in matches, getting the best out of each player.
To put it in perspective, a team which started last night with Scott Wright, bless him, and finished with Fashion Sakala still beat German giants Leipzig 3-1 on the night, 3-2 on aggregate. That it deserved that win is down to the players’ incredible work ethic and will to win, but massive massive credit must go to Gio’s adaptability, reading of the game, and ability to change things up to suit and refresh.
His big trick was discovering John Lundstram is just as good a CB as he is a midfielder – giving Rangers the ‘on the fly’ ability to switch from a back 4 to a back 5 and vice versa.
Lundstram might be the key, but Gio made the lock and the mechanism.
This may be Steven Gerrard’s squad, but it is certainly Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Rangers and he’s turned it into a completely new machine.
Seeing Tav and Borna go from defenders to attackers on the fly, either hiking forward and giving width or sitting deep wide to halt the opponents is the level of tactical nous Gio has.
Looking at the stats, both Tav and Borna had 4 defensive interventions, and 6 and 5 crossing attempts respectively last night.
This shows the rounded nature of what Gio was able to get from them. Both wing backs and full backs as and when needed.
As and when needed.
This is not the only genius of Gio, but it’s a big one.
What a manager we have.
Imagine what he’d have done with a pre-season and money…