The evolution of Rangers: 'You have to believe' as Giovanni van Bronckhorst reveals his coaching idols

Giovanni van Bronckhorst will tell his team to match Rangers’ iconic Bareclona Bears by bringing the club’s first European title since 1972 back from Seville as he himself bids to match figures from his own illustrious past.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst is hoping to guide Rangers to their second European trophy.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst is hoping to guide Rangers to their second European trophy.

Frank Rijkaard, Dick Advocaat and Louis van Gaal all had an input and effect on the Rangers manager’s playing days – and now the Dutchman wants to join those legendary peers by landing a European trophy as a manager.

Management, van Bronckhorst says, is a constant learning cycle, where he has taken the best work of his teachers and reflected the results on his own role at Rangers. He has moulded the key elements to reach a Europa League goal which could not only match one of the many achievements of the past Dutch masters, but earn legendary status at Ibrox.

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One previous boss in particular, though, is a model on which van Bronckhorst works and sets up his team.

“You learn from every coach you have and I’m still learning. As a player, I was still learning at 34 or 35 and as a coach you never stop learning, improving yourself and getting new ideas.

“So it’s an ongoing process,” the manager said.

“I was privileged to train under some really good coaches. I think the final I played with Barcelona in 2006, when we won the Champions League, we had Frank Rijkaard as coach. As a character and the way I work, I think I’m closest to his manners and the way he approaches games.

“I always had a good feeling with him because he used the strength of the team. He always made us feel like we were special and able to achieve great things. With him, I had a really good relationship.

“Louis van Gaal was another coach I had with the Dutch team. As a coach in general, he is one of the best.

“And Dick Advocaat was a coach I had with both Rangers and the Dutch team.”

They are not the only historic group van Bronckhorst is seeking to join on Wednesday evening.

The Barcelona Bears of 1972 who brought the Cup Winners’ Cup back to Scotland – the only Rangers team to taste success on the continent – are still discussed in feted tones around the corridors of Ibrox, and John Greig ensures their feat is never forgotten.

"John is telling that story every day! No, it’s good to have. I love having John Greig around because he is a true legend,” van Bronckhorst added.

“I think it’s also very important for the players to hear those stories, of the influence and experience they had and what it meant to them. That’s very important because this club is all about history.

“I also told my players that we have two big finals and the final in Seville next week will give them a chance to be in the history books of this club.

“Then the stories they will tell in 10, 20 or 30 years will be the same stories that all the players from ’72 will tell to mine.”

It is a chance of greatness, of that there is no doubt. Eintracht Frankfurt are talented but sit 11th in the German top flight, far beyond RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund, who Rangers have eliminated already.

Using the Dutch methodology of van Gaal, Rijkaard and company has seen a tactical evolution at Rangers – sometimes midway through games – and van Bronckhorst will apply more of the elements he has learned through a 30-year football career against Frankfurt that have served Rangers so well against more illustrious opponents – including the two German sides – already.

“It’s a Bundesliga team and a very strong team, physically good, well organised and very fast in transitions,” said Van Bronckhorst. “We also saw when we played against Leipzig. They have had great results, beating Barcelona and West Ham is a great achievement for them – the results they have had in Europe will give them confidence. But they have different players to the ones we faced.

“The system might be the same but individually they have different strengths but we are watching all the games they have played so far and in the end we will make a plan to try to be victorious against Eintracht.

“If you play against a really strong opponent – Dortmund at that time were favourites to win the Europa League – and you give a performance like that, it’s good for confidence and your belief in your strength as a team. We stayed really humble and respected the opponent and made sure that we did everything we could to win against every team we played. That’s one of the strengths of this team. I’m really happy with that. Frankfurt will be the same. We won’t change our approach. We won’t change anything in addressing all the tactics. The preparations will be the same as when we played before.

“It would be a huge achievement and it also the beauty of football because it doesn’t matter how much you spend or what your players are worth, in the end you have the chance to win against a team in 90 minutes.

“You can play against a team with much bigger budgets and better players but we have won those games.

“I think it is a huge achievement for us and it shows that everything is possible in football once you work hard for it. You have to believe.”