Summing up Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s first year at Rangers is unfair

Summing up Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s first year at Rangers is unfair
Rangers' Dutch manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst speaks during a press conference at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow on October 31, 2022, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League Group A football match against Ajax. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

As all the media are telling us, it marks a year to the day Giovanni van Bronckhorst was announced as Rangers manager and to say the least it’s been a historic 12 months in Rangers FC’s history.

From the highs of the Scottish Cup and Sevilla, to the lows of the UCL campaign and 22/23 in general, Gio has had a colourful spell as manager and we’re seeing a tonne of ‘assessment’, sites and media outlets summing up his first 12 months as manager, giving their verdict.

Ibrox Noise even offered the readers a chance to do the same some weeks ago, a summary review with a score out of 10, and the answers varied significantly from 2/10 and a disaster, to 7/10 because of Sevilla.

Where do we stand on his position and merits after his first anniversary?

While losing out on 56 last season was tremendously disappointing, it was to a domestic juggernaut in Celtic, who barely dropped a point after Gio was appointed. Let’s not forget how prolific Celtic were after he came ‘into office’ – they had just clicked into gear at that point and thereafter, dropped just two points all season. How was Gio supposed to compete with that while managing Thursday football the entire campaign?

That’s the part most Rangers fans are currently irate about – they just see the ‘flunked it’ notion that Gio choked the league last season, forgetting that Celtic won every match from November onwards bar one. Competing on three fronts especially that run to Seville, how were Rangers to match that?

Curiously, Walter Smith didn’t get the same abuse Gio has after finishing 2008 with two domestic cups to Rangers’ one – he also got to the UEFA final and fell at the league hurdle (regardless of sporting integrity), but equally fans worshipped Walter and rightly supported him through thick and thin. Gio doesn’t attract the same love, correctly or not. He also got a fair bit more money the following year (about £18M) but also lost his best defender (Cuellar) and best attacker (Cousin), sound familiar?

But this is about Gio, and honestly, it’s hard to measure the man – in 12 months he got us to UCL, Sevilla and a Scottish Cup, two of those were on zero budget, but in the last 3+ months it’s really derailed because of those ‘big three’ – Celtic, Ajax then Napoli – it just fell to pieces after those crushing losses.

And so did the squad – injury after injury have deeply upset the group, and while Gio has made a fair few tactical gaffes, it’s hard to measure him accurately either on this season or last – this season we’re under a deluge of injuries, last season we made history with Sevilla. Where is the relevant precedent for this scenario?

There isn’t one.

As we understand, Gio has been given some goodwill, the chance to turn this around once he’s actually got something approximating his full squad back.

If Rangers remain tumbling into the abyss, then yes, it’s clearly time for a change. But Gio’s first year simply can’t be measured by any accurate means because it’s unique in Rangers’ history.

Anyone trying to measure it has an agenda one way or the other.

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  1. How then do you excuse the appalling lack of intensity, style and conviction in our play this year, since the 2022/23 season started? The results have been dreadful; the play laborious, even before the unprecedented injury list. Change is needed from top to bottom in our club. The Board appear to treat the fans with contempt and fleece the fans for an inferior product. Gio, in most fans eyes, cannot get the best out of these players as reflected in the poor results and performances. Add these flaws to his totally uninspiring comments after poor results. Promising young players like Lowry are not getting a chance and good players like Katic and Balogun are dispensed with; standout performers like Aribo, Patterson and Bassey have been sold and not adequately replaced.

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