If regulars know one thing, it’s that no one saluted the flagpole more for Giovanni van Bronckhorst than Ibrox Noise.
We 100% religiously backed the new manager, perceiving him as 100% the right choice, ticking every single correct box there was to add quill to parchment with, and were delighted when the board listened.
We have trusted him blindly and unquestioningly, looking at his excellent achievements with Feyenoord as a benchmark of his qualities – he won more there than Steven Gerrard did at Ibrox, and Gerrard only had Celtic to contend with, GVB had PSV, Ajax, AZ and a host of others to fend off.
So… with recent form the way it’s been, and results being a little patchy, do we still completely trust him?
No, is the answer, we don’t.
We haven’t lost all faith him, but just like Gerrard, his blind stubbornness and favouritism while admitting he isn’t going to change a thing and will stick firmly to his philosophies is worrying – it shows a manager who won’t admit he’s wrong, and this is a massive galling truth:
Gio has NEVER taken responsibility for a single fail of anything Rangers since becoming manager, always putting the blame on the players, and not being accountable to anything.
Steven Gerrard did the same for a while, before he finally learned to admit when he’d got it wrong, and we certainly respected him for doing that, but Gio isn’t at that point yet.
He’s not at the point where he ever admits he might have got something wrong, which means he’s going to stand by what he’s doing come hell or high water.
Do we support him? We absolutely do, we still like the man a great deal and have a lot of respect for him, but we are willing, entirely, to criticise him now, whereas he got a free pass for most of last season.
This season is the one we measure him on – he’s had a full preseason, regardless of who made the signings, and he’s had all that time to impress his ideas on the team. Usually, that preseason, or lack of, is generally cited as a defence of players who don’t settle, and indeed Gio used it himself by saying arriving midseason last campaign ‘wasn’t ideal’.
So he’s admitted himself he can be fully judged on this season, given he’s had a full summer to execute his ideas.
And the form?
Well, home-wise, it’s actually been pretty good. Even if the performances haven’t been great, the results have – all wins bar a sole draw to the mighty PSV and of course that Napoli reverse.
Away is where it’s come unstuck, with a catastrophic run which saw losses in Belgium, Holland, and Parkhead, with a terrible draw at Easter Road. The one exception was the incredible win in Eindhoven.
Well, Celtic’s loss changed the picture – it showed, for the first time under their manager, that European football impacts domestic performances, something they’ve not had under him bar unfailing defeats and tournament exits.
It evens the playing field, and shows Gio he’s maybe doing better than some, even ourselves, give him credit for, given all the European matches he’s had to face.
There are two points difference in the league, meaning it’s all to play for.
Which doesn’t mean we now completely trust Gio, but it does mean he has a ‘weaker’ Celtic than the 100% league-based one he faced last season.
So, this really is the season he can be fairly judged, fairly praised, fairly criticised.
It’s up to him to make sure it’s the first two he gets most of.