Giovanni van Bronckhorst: Happy to be loved, but Rangers fans affection is matched by expectation
The reception he was afforded as he took his seat to witness the 3-1 Premier Sports Cup semi-final defeat against Hibs showed van Bronckhorst the affection in which he is held by the Ibrox fans has not dimmed in the 20 years since he left the club as a player.
As the 46-year-old settles into the hot seat at Rangers, he is well aware that the goodwill extended towards him comes in tandem with a demand and expectancy that he will deliver a trophy-winning team on the pitch.
“It’s a big responsibility but I’m not afraid of responsibility,” said van Bronckhorst as he was formally unveiled at a media conference on Monday afternoon.
“I’m used to the pressure, so in that way it’s not different. I’m a very positive person so I will do everything to make sure we are going the right way and to be successful for the club.
“I don’t think you can perform without pressure as it will make you sharp and get you going. That’s what I felt as a player and as a coach as you want to get the best out of the team. I know results will influence that a lot but it won’t change how I train or work with the players.
“It’s a great feeling to be welcomed. The welcome I had from the club was really nice, not only for me but for my staff and my family. It’s a good feeling when you are in a place where you are loved. The welcome (at Hampden) was amazing. I can imagine on Thursday (for the game against Sparta Prague at Ibrox) it will be even more. It means I made the right decision and I really feel at home.
“I’m very proud. It was 1998 when I came here as a player and sat here in this room with Dick Advocaat as manager. To be back here now as the manager is a proud feeling.
“Of course I always kept in touch with the club and most of the players I played with. It was a beautiful time as a player.
“The last few days, being back in Glasgow again and being involved again with the people at the club, make that feeling more special.”
Van Bronckhorst insists there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation on his part in deciding he would grasp the opportunity to replace Steven Gerrard when the former England captain quit Rangers to take charge of Aston Villa.
“For me, it was quite easy because I know the club and how big Rangers is,” he said. “For me, it wasn’t an issue of thinking over this job. But, of course, you have to talk to the people first and see if they were really offering me the job.
“But I was confident I would have the job because it’s a club I want to lead. I want to bring success to the club.
“I was working in a big club as well in Feyenoord – a very big club with a lot of pressure. It was a club I knew from when I was very young. So those clubs are very similar and hopefully I can bring the same success as I did with my staff to Rangers.”
As Rangers continue to make annual losses and rely on the financial backing of directors and investors, establishing an effective player-trading model remains a priority. It remains to be seen how much leeway it will provide van Bronckhorst for any attempts to reshape the squad he has inherited over future transfer windows but he is content with the assurances he has received from sporting director Ross Wilson and other powerbrokers at the club.
“We have had good conversations,” he added. “We had two good meetings and I know where the people working for the club want us to be in the next few years.
“Their philosophy, vision and ambition is really good, so I think we will always be close.
“We will discuss possible players coming in and players going out, but the most important thing is that you are on the same level.
“I will be talking with Ross daily about the future of the club. I am sure they will do everything possible to ensure the future is good.”
With direct entry to the lucrative Champions League group stage on offer to this season’s Scottish champions, retaining the Premiership title is clearly imperative for van Brockhorst as he takes charge of a team currently four points ahead of Celtic at the top of the table.
“I have been brought up as a player to go the maximum in every competition you are in.” he said.
“It is that desire and hunger you have to be involved in every competition and try to win. I think that is fair to the game, to be 100 per cent focused in every competition you play.
“Of course, one competition will give you more money and the Champions League is the one that everyone wants to be involved in, but our base has to be to try to win every competition and that is what we are aiming to do.
“The next game will be in Europe, we will prepare really well with the players and after that we think about the next game.”
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