Giovanni van Bronckhorst hits back at Rangers 'arrogance' claims ahead of Red Star tie

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has backed his ‘humble’ players to prove they have the right attitude to overcome Red Star Belgrade and reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Van Bronckhorst has hit back at claims from the Serbian champions’ academy director Dragan Mladenovic, a former Rangers player, who suggested the Ibrox club’s stunning victory over then tournament favourites Borussia Dortmund in the last round has made them ‘a little arrogant’.

Mladenovic, who made just nine appearances for Rangers following his £1 million move from Red Star in 2004, added: “They are thinking in the sense that, ‘When we can beat Borussia, the second best club in Germany, we will also beat Red Star’. They are full of self-confidence, but that arrogance can hit them on the head.”

That has drawn a withering response from van Bronckhorst as he prepares his team for the first leg of the last 16 tie at Ibrox on Thursday night.

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst says his team will 'do our business on the pitch' as they attempt to reach the last eight of the Europa League. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“Why are we arrogant?,” said van Bronckhorst. “I don’t see any of my players being arrogant. We are very humble at this moment.

“We enjoy being in Europe but we respect every opponent we are facing. I don’t see anything of arrogance in my team or myself or the club.

“We are happy to be in this round. We do everything to win this tie. Arrogant is not the word which comes to me when I see my players preparing for this game.”

The pre-match psychology has also seen Red Star manager Dejan Stankovic insist Rangers are favourites to progress, an assessment shared by the bookmakers.

Van Bronckhorst, who faced Stankovic on the pitch at the 2006 World Cup Finals when Holland beat Serbia and Montenegro 1-0 in a group stage game, has shrugged off any attempt at mind games.

“That’s his opinion,” said van Bronckhorst. “For me, that’s not important. We have to do our business on the pitch. That’s what we are going to try to do.

“I know he was a fantastic player. His character and the way he played, you see his influence on his team. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach. We can’t wait to match our teams against each other. I’m really looking forward to the two games we are going to play against each other.”

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