'You don’t cope with it': Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst opens up on prospect of being sacked in his career

Giovanni van Bronckhorst is yet to savour that shattering sensation of rejection and failure after voluntarily leaving both Feyenoord and Guangzhou but, as the grumbling from the stands grows louder about his uncertain stewardship of Rangers, the Dutchman is shrewd enough to know it will come around at some point.

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst reacts during a Premier Sports Cup match between Rangers and Dundee at Ibrox Stadium, on October 19, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland.
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst reacts during a Premier Sports Cup match between Rangers and Dundee at Ibrox Stadium, on October 19, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland.

He sympathises with his Ibrox predecessor Steven Gerrard, someone he leant on for advice in the early days and remained in contact with during the Englishman’s troubled tenure at Aston Villa that came to a shuddering halt on Thursday night.

How does any manager cope knowing the guillotine poised above their head could come crashing down at any point? They don’t, admits Van Bronckhorst, whose strategy instead is to focus on improving performances in the hope of sating a notoriously demanding Rangers support. Unlike Gerrard who presided over a run of defeats, van Bronckhorst has led his team to five successive domestic victories and will be expected to make it six when Livingston visit Ibrox this afternoon.

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Defeating Dundee in midweek didn’t stop the boos from raining down, however, and it may be the same today even if Rangers were to collect three points but in an unconvincing manner. That would heap additional pressure on Van Bronckhorst but he remains stoic about his potential fate. If he ends up sacked by Rangers – or at another point later in his career – the 47-year-old will simply deal with it as it arises.

“You don’t cope with it,” he said of the ongoing threat of being dismissed. “I did my coaching badges and they said when you are a head coach the one thing for sure is that at least one time in your career you will get sacked. Hopefully it won't happen but they prepare you for those situations. As a player I had to perform in high-pressure moments so I’m used to the pressure and it is the same when you are a manager.

“The worst feeling that can happen is the moment you get sacked as then you would feel everything coming out. I don't think you can prepare yourself for that moment as a coach if you have never been sacked before. Hopefully in my career I will never get sacked. If the day comes then I have to look in the mirror and have the feeling I did everything I could. But you can’t prepare for it.”

Dealing with unhappy fans is not a new situation for Van Bronckhorst who won the Dutch title and four domestic cups in his first managerial post but still couldn’t appease all the people, all of the time. “I have been in a bad situation at Feyenoord when we were having bad results and losing,” he recalled. “Now it is a bit different because we are still winning, although maybe not in a convincing way over 90 minutes.

“If you hear the crowd booing at the end then it is a signal that something hasn’t gone the proper way. That for us was the last 25 minutes against Dundee when we played really bad but were happily 1-0 up. Those are moments we don't want to have anymore. The Livingston game is a chance for us to win at home, play well and make sure the crowd leaves without booing.”