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Giovanni van Bronckhorst: Rangers manager’s highs and lows during first year in charge | Football News

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Giovanni van Bronckhorst took charge at Rangers exactly a year ago in what has been a rollercoaster 12 months.

In his first season the Dutchman led the side to the Europa League final and Scottish Cup glory, but failed to retain the Scottish Premiership title.

He then took Rangers to the Champions League this season where they went on to record the worst group-stage campaign in history, while Celtic moved nine points clear in the 2022-23 title race after just 15 matches.

Before the World Cup break, Van Bronckhorst spoke exclusively to Sky Sports News to reflect on his first 12 months in charge at Ibrox…

What are your memories of the first day, walking through the door at Ibrox as manager?

Giovanni van Bronckhorst with his Rangers coaching staff
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Van Bronckhorst with his Rangers coaching staff

It is a proud memory for me. It had been quite a hectic week because the week before you didn’t have any idea what your future would be. Five days later you’re on a plane towards Glasgow to sign the contract. I really, really enjoyed the first steps I took at Ibrox because on the training ground to start working with the team was a very nice moment for me because of the history I have with this beautiful club.

What did you focus on in those first few weeks to make sure you got up and running?

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Van Bronckhorst did not change much at training in his early days in charge

I saw from the semi-final against Hibs where we lost the team was really down with the result, but I could see the quality that we had back then and still have. We made sure we kept pushing the players. Technically we changed small stuff, we couldn’t change the whole set-up. I think the players were open to change and, of course, it helps when you win.

The first slip was against Aberdeen – what were your thoughts at that point?

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Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between Aberdeen and Rangers last season

We were due to play Aberdeen and Celtic in the last games before the winter break, then they rescheduled the break and we had to play later. At that moment we were playing our best football and we wanted to play on. There were only one or two clubs who wanted to continue because of the way Covid was at the time we couldn’t have the stadiums full. That wasn’t our decision but, still, we returned with a draw at Aberdeen and a bad result against Celtic.

How difficult was that defeat at Celtic Park?

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Highlights of last season’s Old Firm as Celtic overtook Rangers in the Scottish Premiership

It was very difficult because it was a big loss for us. Also, the way we lost. It was a game that we didn’t play well at all, we started really nervous and it cost us early goals and it will always be difficult to recover from that.

What’s been the most difficult day so far?

Kit man Jimmy Bell was at Rangers for over 30 years.
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Kit man Jimmy Bell was at Rangers for over 30 years

My most difficult day was two days before Leipzig at home when we got the call at 6 o’clock to say Jimmy (Bell) had died. We had to come here and instead of preparing the team for one of the biggest games in the club’s history, we had a day when we were in mourning and everyone was so devastated at the news.

Rangers beat Leipzig days after Jimmy Bell's death to reach the Europa League final
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Rangers beat Leipzig days after Jimmy Bell’s death to reach the Europa League final

You could see everyone coming in with positive energy and vibrant because of the game and what was going to happen then you could see in a split second, boom, everything changed. Everyone felt the same. That’s by far the most difficult moment I’ve had as a coach, and as the manager here.

How did you handle the end of the season? Disappointment in the league then you have to juggle the Europa League final and Scottish Cup final.

Rangers' Borna Barisic shakes hands with Rangers' head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst after being substituted during the Europa League final soccer match between Eintracht Frankfurt and Rangers FC at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville, Spain, Wednesday, May 18, 2022.
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Rangers lost the Europa League final to Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties

In the league, the distance was there but we still had to win our games. Of course, I rotated some players because they had to be fresh for the final and of course the cup because they were two important moments for us.

Rangers celebrate after beating Hearts to win the Scottish Cup
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Rangers won the Scottish Cup for the first time since 2009

To play the Europa League final and have the disappointment of not winning the final then be ready at Hampden two days later to play against Hearts was tough. We finished the season with a positive moment to win the Scottish Cup.

You’ve had some difficult days this season, particularly in Europe, have they been damaging in the bigger picture?

Mo Salah came off the bench to score a second-half hat-trick for Liverpool at Rangers in the Champions League
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Rangers suffered a 7-1 defeat to Liverpool as they lost every Champions League group stage game

It’s not what we wanted to see. Physically we had to play on a much higher level than we are used to and, of course, when you play against Napoli, Liverpool and Ajax and you lose games your mental energy is also affected. It is normal because we are all human beings and when you have a setback or disappointing moment it will affect your well-being. Those are things that were hard for us and we also had to play the games in a shorter period because of the World Cup. It was very demanding.

Looking back do you think enough was done in the summer to get you going?

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Rangers' Antonio Colak celebrates making it 1-0 during a cinch Premiership match between Rangers and Dundee United at Ibrox Stadium, on September 17, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
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Antonio Colak was one of seven summer signings

We lost some players who were out of contract or on loan and some players made moves. Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey both took really good next steps in their careers and then we had to add new players. We did our homework, we had a list of potential new players and then that’s when it begins. Is this player available? Can we have them? Is it financially possible to get players? Every window that’s the dynamic you have, you do everything to get players in. We had seven new players in and some started really well, some need more time.

Rangers' Tom Lawrence
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Tom Lawrence is out until after the World Cup with an injury

I think every time that’s the same with new players because they come from different backgrounds and different countries. In the end what we wanted was to reach the Champions League, which we did. Of course, we didn’t foresee the many problems we would have with injuries.

Does this feel like your team now? When you look at the teamsheet there aren’t many who have come since you arrived.

Rangers' Allan McGregor and James Tavernier look frustrated the loss at Napoli
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Allan McGregor and James Tavernier are two of Rangers’ longest-serving players

Every player in the squad is my player. It doesn’t mean I have to get new players then it’s my team. That’s not my job. From the moment I stepped in that door, these are my players and I work with the players. Sometimes you go and you change things because players are out of contract or we sell them and we have to refresh the squad, but every player is my player. I don’t like when it is said ‘this is not my squad’, this is my squad.

A number of players are out of contract in the summer. Will the changes start in January or will the rebuild begin in the summer?

Alfredo Morelos made it 4-1 to Rangers against Aberdeen
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Alfredo Morelos is among 11 Rangers players out of contract at the end of the season

I speak almost every day with Ross (Wilson) and we need to see how my squad is when the window comes closer. In every window you have to make sure you end the window stronger than you started. You can see what is possible and what we can do. We always want a better squad.

Have you enjoyed year one?

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With Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s job at Rangers coming under increasing pressure, look back at some of the highs and lows from his time in charge of the club

Of course I have enjoyed year one. Overall I have enjoyed every minute I’m here. Just like in life you have bad moments and good moments, difficult moments and high moments. It’s been a whole year like this and I’m very blessed and grateful to be the manager of this football club.

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Adam Azim vs Rylan Charlton: Watch live stream of the weigh-in with Mikael Lawal, Lerrone Richards, Zak Chelli and more taking to the scales | Boxing News

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Exclusive live coverage of the Azim v Charlton weigh-in from London.

Watch live as Adam Azim and Rylan Charlton take to the scales ahead of their showdown on Sunday.

Azim is one of the most exciting prospects in the UK but Charlton will be a key test for him at this early stage of his career.

Also on the bill at London’s Alexandra Palace, David Jamieson is out for revenge when he rematches former conqueror Mikael Lawal for the vacant British cruiserweight title.

Lerrone Richards is a brilliantly gifted super-middleweight but will have to contend with a fiery, determined and heavy-handed Zak Chelli.

Sam Gilley and Sean Robinson are set for an exciting scrap for the English super-welterweight title.

Hit play on the above stream for coverage of the weigh-in, and watch Azim vs Charlton live from 3pm this Sunday afternoon, on Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Arena or Sky Showcase





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U.S. beats England, 0-0

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What psychopath called the long-awaited United States men’s national team’s Black Friday showdown against England a scoreless draw? I’ll have whatever you’re drinking. After gaining my bearings after that stiff cocktail, and realizing Matt Turner nor Jordan Pickford allowing a goal wasn’t just fallacy, it yielded a simple consequence for the American’s group-stage finale on Tuesday against Iran: win and the USMNT advances to the knockout stage. Lose? It’d be on the next flight out of Qatar. Tie? Who the fuck plays for a tie? It’ll come down to goal differential for you marks.

The American’s play in Qatar will draw plenty of comparisons to their efforts at the 2010 World Cup. Ties against England, yes that game with Robert Green’s all-time gaffe in net, and Slovenia to start group play. The exact same stakes were in the balance for the USMNT’s group finale against Algeria. A Landon Donovan extra-time goal was the difference as the USA went from eliminated to group winners with one kick of the ball. One goal against Iran could very well be the difference for the United States.

The goal for the USMNT coming into Friday’s game was proving it could hang with the Three Lions. In the four years Gregg Berhalter has led the Yanks, they’ve played an opponent of that quality exactly never. Zero minutes against a world-class team, especially in a competitive environment. The Americans not only hung with the country they gained their independence from, the USA would’ve won under Queensberry Rules. The first 20 minutes for the USMNT were tough, but it didn’t concede a goal. After that, the Stars and Stripes got the better of the Union Jack.

While the United Kingdom beats up on each other, all that stands between the knockout stage is Iran. What American fan wouldn’t have taken a victory over Iran to make the final 16 a week ago? You would’ve been crazy to want more. Iran hasn’t looked strong in either game so far in the tournament. The USA has had time in both games against the U.K. where it has looked organized and intimidating. It’s only yielded one goal.

Coming out of the game against Wales, the Americans felt lucky to get a point. After the draw against England, the Americans must feel like they can play with anyone. And their next game is against the team who gave up six goals to England. If the USA loses to Iran, Berhalter doesn’t come back stateside with a job. His overstated mindset of splitting the World Cup into two tournaments, the group stage and knockout stage, should be a great standard of how to evaluate the program going forward. Without seeing the USMNT in both of those phases, Berhalter shouldn’t be employed.

After two draws, Berhalter must make a few changes to his starting lineup. Do enough to not disrupt chemistry and facilitate the proper change to score more. Haji Wright didn’t get it done at striker and Josh Sargent at least looked comparable against Wales. We have yet to see Berhalter’s favorite coming into the tournament, Jesus Ferreira. I wouldn’t be shocked if he had a large shift against Iran. The USMNT has been looking for a consistent striker who can score in big games for about forever. It won’t be solved at this World Cup. Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Another change I’d make would be Tim Weah coming off the bench and starting Gio Reyna or Brenden Aaronson in his place. Even though Weah scored the USA’s only goal of the World Cup so far, he didn’t do much against England. The USMNT should give Iran a set of personnel it couldn’t have scouted together.

With that new-look USMNT, the must-win scenario looks much more attainable. Let’s not dismiss Iran completely here, it’s a solid soccer team. It did more than enough to make the World Cup. Let’s not also pretend like the Americans shouldn’t win this game with some ease at their best. We saw one of the best efforts from the USMNT in recent memory, albeit without a goal, against England. Now the Yanks must do it again with their World Cup lives at stake.



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Reality check for England as World Cup 2022 hopefuls second-best to USA in deflating draw

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E

ngland were second best in a deflating 0-0 draw with the USA, which will go down as a reality check on their World Cup ambitions to leave Qatar as champions.

Gareth Southgate’s side were booed off by their travelling fans after a pedestrian performance, which leaves the manager with a raft of questions to address ahead of Tuesday’s final group game against Wales and before the business end of the tournament gets under way in the knockouts.

The bigger picture is that England now have one foot in the last-16, and this result mirrored their second group game at Euro 2020, when they were held to a goalless draw by Scotland at Wembley but went on to reach the final.

That result sparked widespread criticism of Southgate and his players, which was vastly overblown in hindsight, so an element of calm is needed, particularly given the strange and warped conditions of this tournament.

Nonetheless, an impressive and hard-pressing USA side exposed flaws in England that were obviously not apparent in the 6-2 thrashing of Iran, and raises questions about Southgate’s setup and selections.

The US, who face a decisive final group game against Iran, were unfortunate not to win, with Christian Pulisic striking the bar and Weston McKennie firing a half-volley over from ten yards.

Jude Bellingham, who opened the scoring on Monday, was pressed out of the match by the USA’s excellent midfield three of Tyler Adams, McKennie and former England youth international Yunus Musah.

Bellingham was withdrawn with 20 minutes to go after what has to go down a lesson about the realities of this level for England’s prodigious teenager.

With the 19-year-old subdued by the US pressure, England struggled to establish a midfield foothold and the danger is that Gregg Berhalter’s team have now provided a blueprint which other teams can follow.

Southgate may need to introduce another midfielder for the knockouts or even against the Welsh, but then he would have to sacrifice a forward player. After such a promising start to the tournament, the England manager is back to having to make difficult compromises to balance his team.

Another question for Southgate was why he ignored Phil Foden, who remained an unused substitute as England struggled to find a spark.

When Southgate eventually turned to his bench, Jordan Henderson replaced Bellingham and Jack Grealish came on for Raheem Sterling, leading to an improvement, but Foden’s ingenuity and silk on the ball would surely have been beneficial as England toiled.

On the plus side, Southgate’s defence held firm and Harry Maguire was particularly impressive in another outing that will dampen doubts around the defender.

Southgate was alarmed by the lapses which allowed Mehdi Taremi to score two second-half consolation goals for Iran and demanded improved focus for the duration against the US.

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While England were pedestrian going forward, John Stones and Maguire, winning his 50th cap, held firm at the back.

Stones was England’s brightest player for the first hour, twice getting across to make important interventions against Pulisic, while Maguire continued his encouraging start to the tournament with a series of defensive headers in the second half when the US piled in corners and crosses.

England did not follow Germany in protesting inside the colossal Al Bayt Stadium but back in London the Wembley arch was illuminated in rainbow colours ahead of the game – as the FA made their point to FIFA over armband-gate, albeit from afar.

Southgate predicted the game would be played at “100 miles an hour” but for most of the first 70 minutes there was only only side at the races.

England were hesitant and ponderous in and out of possession, a stark contrast to their aggression from the off against Iran, but the US were full of purpose and a constant threat on the counter-attack.

McKennie should have opened the scoring when he half-volleyed over from ten yards before Pulisic spanked a brilliant left-foot shot off the crossbar, with Jordan Pickford beaten.

England went close at either end of the half through Harry Kane and Mason Mount, who extended US goalkeeper Matt Turner, but would have been the more relieved at the half-time whistle.

The US faded in the second half in their 1-1 draw with Wales, unable to maintain the intensity of their press, and the big question after the interval was whether they could keep it up, particularly given England’s arsenal from the bench.

By contrast, the US only continued in their ascendency after the interval, and were soon camped in England’s half, sending in a succession of crosses and corners, expertly repelled by Stones and Maguire.

It was not until Southgate finally turned to his bench with the introductions of Henderson and Grealish, and latterly Marcus Rashford, that England were roused from their slumber.

Grealish provided some verve down the left flank and began finally asking questions of a US back line who must have expected a far sterner examination.

With England back on the front foot, Kane nearly nicked the victory with a stoppage-time header which flashed wide but three points would have been far more than Southgate’s side deserved.



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