Giovanni van Bronckhorst: How much pressure is Rangers manager under?

Giovanni van Bronckhorst

Successive home games ending with the Ibrox crowd jeering. Four points off the pace in the Scottish Premiership. Out of the Champions League with two games still to play and a Europa League spot looking unlikely.

Things do not look great for Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst right now.

Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Livingston, though not necessarily fatal in terms of their title hopes, continued a recent trend of a lack of end product from the Ibrox side. And it was a 13th game in 21 in all competitions in which they have conceded.

Booing greeted the Rangers players as they left the pitch following Wednesday’s 1-0 League Cup win over Dundee and more followed after they salvaged a late draw against 10-man Livingston on Saturday.

Asked after that draw how he felt about the supporters’ ire, Van Bronckhorst’s answer was simple: “Same. I’m not happy with the performance, I’m not happy we dropped points at home so I feel bad,” he explained.

“I always feel the pressure. I’m responsible for the results. The draw is my responsibility, the line-up, the structure, the subs – it comes down to one man and that’s the manager. That’s the pressure I feel.”

Can Van Bronckhorst survive latest setback?

The Dutchman went into this season with a lot of credit in the bank. Last season’s Europa League final appearance and a Scottish Cup win capped a decent first seven months in charge following Steven Gerrard’s mid-season departure.

And success in the Champions League qualifiers further strengthened his record at Ibrox.

However, a series of heavy defeats, most notably by Celtic domestically and by Ajax and Liverpool in Europe, has raised dissent and questions about his future.

Furthermore, limp performances in wins over Dundee United, Motherwell and Dundee and now the draw with Livingston has added to the pressure before a hugely daunting trip to Naples in midweek.

Former Scotland midfielder Leanne Crichton says she is “unsure if Van Bronckhorst will survive this”.

“I can hear the frustration at Ibrox. It really doesn’t look good for him,” she added on Sportsound.

Antonio Colak

Might things get worse this week?

Financially, reaching the Champions League group stage has been hugely significant for Rangers. Competitively, it has decimated confidence with four defeats, 16 goals conceded and only one scored.

Group A leaders Napoli host Rangers next on Wednesday with the Ibrox side realistically needing something to give them any chance of overhauling Ajax into third place and securing a Europa League place.

Former Rangers striker Mark Hateley, a veteran of many an Ibrox success story in the 1990s, bemoaned a “lack of imagination” against Livingston and asked: “What is that going to do to the mind now of the players and the fans?

“It’s a bad, bad performance, bad bad result to be taking into the Champions League. Rangers haven’t got an identity at the moment.”

Are Celtic the biggest problem for Rangers?

Statistically, Rangers’ season so far has not actually been a disaster. With just one domestic loss and two draws, they have two more points at this stage of the season than last.

Van Bronckhorst has also had injuries to contend with amid a truncated programme of domestic and European games in the run up to the World Cup. But the brutal reality for the Dutchman and Rangers fans is that their current malaise is contrasted with Celtic’s strength and consistency.

Celtic’s recent loss to St Mirren was their first league defeat in almost a year and so far this term they have outscored Rangers in the Premiership by 12 – more than a goal a game more on average.

And former Rangers forward Rory Loy said: “It’s going to have to take a big turn in performances. It’s October, you need to be performing. You can’t just expect to win every week 2-1 and get by because performances will catch up with you.

“Rangers have been in a rut for far too long.”

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