What I’d say to Rangers boss Gio van Bronckhorst about the Champions League excuse I didn’t like – Kenny Miller
Gio said they need hundreds of millions to compete at UEFA’s top table and I reckon he’ll come to regret it.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Dave Vos look dejected during the Ajax v Rangers clash
As if the 4-0 Champions League hammering by Ajax wasn’t enough for Rangers fans to stomach. They were then dealt another body blow with Giovanni van Bronckhorst ’s comments post-match in Amsterdam.
The manager said they can’t compete at that level without hundreds of millions of pounds to spend. I must admit, I didn’t like that. I’d say to Gio, “You didn’t need hundreds of millions to compete with Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig last season.”
Those two were dismantled by Rangers in the Europa League and both have spent far more on their squads than Rangers have. And we didn’t just compete with them, we played them off the park. Dortmund and Leipzig are serial Champions League clubs. They’re both in the competition again this season and have previously reached the semi-finals.
Over a league campaign, of course Rangers couldn’t compete with these clubs. It’s the same everywhere. That’s why the likes of Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs can’t get near the Old Firm over a season.
So Gio should be wary of going down that route when he’s looking for excuses. Maybe he got caught up in the emotion of losing so heavily to Ajax but I think he’ll regret what he said.
The Rangers support didn’t react well to the comments. But it’s not a time for over-reaction in the boardroom at Ibrox. Gio deserves time to fix what’s gone wrong, just like Steven Gerrard got before he eventually led the club to its 55th title.
Only a matter of months ago Rangers reached a European final by competing with higher-budget teams. It wasn’t a worry for him then. Beating teams like Dortmund and Leipzig over two legs, was that not competing?
Remember when Rangers drew 0-0 with Barcelona at Ibrox in 2007? Barca’s front three that night was Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi. That trio was worth more than Rangers have spent on players in the last 100 years!
But did that stop Walter Smith’s side being competitive over 90 minutes against Barca? No chance. Europe is different because they’re effectively one-off games. So I’m just not having Gio’s hundreds of millions argument.
Don’t worry about what other teams have got. Focus on us. Get the absolute maximum from the resources you have, which is what Rangers did last season.
They might not be shopping in the same market but on that Europa League run, Rangers and Gio proved they can compete. We know the club can’t spend the same levels of cash as others. But I’ll tell you what, when you do have money, you need to spend it wisely and I’m not sure Rangers have done that so far.
There are huge question marks over some of the summer signings, whether they’re injured or not. Where is £4million man Ben Davies? Where is Turkey’s £6m left-back, Ridvan Yilmaz?
And does the £2m they spent on landing Welsh winger Rabbi Matondo look like value for money? That’s £12m spent on three players who have barely been seen in a Rangers jersey yet.
For a club that doesn’t spend a lot of money these days, they threw down a decent chunk of change this summer. But there’s £12m worth of talent that’s looks to be nowhere near Gio’s starting line-up.
When you’re spending serious money on players you need to make sure they’re hits on the park. They must be starting every week. Instead, that trio have played only a handful of games between them so far.
Of the seven summer signings, it’s a guy on loan (Malik Tillman) and a free transfer (Tom Lawrence) who have been starters. Antonio Colak has played due to Alfredo Morelos being out and he cost £1.8m. He’s the only guy they’ve paid money for that’s playing.
When I was at Rangers for my second spell under Walter, we didn’t pay a transfer fee for a player in two years but we competed. Not since the Dick Advocaat era has the club spent the kind of money that Steven Gerrard and Gio have had. When I left the club, I never thought I’d see the day Rangers paid £6m for a player ever again.
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But Ryan Kent was bought for £7m by Gerrard and now Yilmaz has cost Van Bronckhorst around £6 million. I’m still surprised they didn’t add to the squad before the transfer window closed.
And, at the moment, the recruitment doesn’t look great. It was all done before getting the Champions League windfall but they needed one or two to strengthen after they beat PSV to qualify. It still looks a bit light and it needs new energy.
That’s not just a reaction to Wednesday night, by the way. Performances have been lacklustre since the start of the season.
The other night in Amsterdam, Ajax ran 6km more than Rangers, despite having 75 per cent possession. Stats can sometimes be deceiving. When you’re forced to defend deep in a game, there isn’t a lot of space to run into.
All you’re doing is shifting small yards. When you’re attacking, you have more lung-bursting runs. Rangers produced nothing going forward so they didn’t have the latter.
But that’s not an excuse. It’s still not a good stat, it looks bad. There are no positives to take from the last week after being battered by your biggest rivals domestically then being humiliated in Europe.
I actually think the doing they got off Celtic was WORSE than the Ajax defeat – and it hurts more because it was in the derby. They need to regroup now and work out why they got the success they did last season.
During that run to Seville, it definitely felt something special was brewing. It was full of spirit and heart. They can’t forget about that.
Instead, they need to draw on it and also at those experiences they shared together as a group. At times in some of those games, they were right up against it. But at the moment, when things go against them, there seems to be an acceptance of their fate.
These players got all the plaudits, the adulation and the love last season. They almost wrote themselves into the history books as Rangers legends but fell just short.
But now they have got to accept the criticism. That’s the nature of the beast at a club like this. You can’t just take it when everything’s going your way. You have to deal with it, stand up and be counted.