As we discussed on Caught Offside previously the Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst was unlikely to survive if he dropped points against St Mirren in the final match before the break for the World Cup.
A 1-1 draw against St Mirren followed by Celtic defeating Ross County later on the same day meant that in just one week Celtic’s lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership increased from four points up to nine as van Bronckhorst’s side had also suffered a 2 -0 defeat at McDiarmid Park to St Johnstone the previous weekend.
Add to the mix the disastrous Champions League campaign with six defeats in the group stages and the worst-ever team tag after shipping goals right left and center to Ajax, Napoli and of course Liverpool who won 7-1 at Ibrox in a night of humiliation for the Rangers supporters.
Today, the 46 year old Dutchman, who led his side all the way to a penalty shoot-out defeat in the Europa League Final in Seville last season, paid the price for the terrible run of form since the Champions league group stages got underway with to 4-0 defeat in Amsterdam.
In a statement released this morning on the club’s official website van Bronckhorst was finally put out of his misery.
“Rangers Football Club confirms today it has parted company with manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst. The board would like to put on record sincere thanks to Gio for all his efforts since his appointment as manager,” the statement reads.
“Arriving at the club just over a year ago, Gio led the club to a fifth European final and won the Scottish Cup last May. He also led the team to the club’s first Champions League qualification in 12 years.
“Unfortunately, results and performances over recent months haven’t met expectations and the decision was made today by the board to terminate the contract of the manager.
“The search for the new manager is now underway.”
The Ibrox club had a tough decision to make given the exceptional European run under van Bronckhorst’s watch last season and this was recognized by club chairman Douglas Park.
“I want to thank Gio for the hard work he has put in over the last 12 months and, especially, the achievements of taking the club to the Europa League final and winning the Scottish Cup last season.
“Unfortunately, recent results have not met neither our nor Gio’s expectations, and we have taken this difficult decision today. Everyone at Rangers wishes Gio every success in the future.”
With van Bronckhorst gone the Rangers board might decide to follow Celtic’s example in looking to the Far East to bring in the current manager of Yokohama F. Marinos, Kevin Muscat, who previously was an assistant to The Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou.
Muscat has just followed in Postecoglou’s footsteps by winning the J-League and as a former Ibrox player (he played for the previous club) Muscat would certainly be a logical candidate to try to claw back the Celtic lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership.
Yet Celtic, who outplayed Frank Lampard’s Everton side in Sydney at the weekend, are looking at strengthening the squad further in January, while money appears to be tight at Ibrox, more so now that van Bronckhorst and his staff will be due around £3.5m in pay-offs.
Another option could be for a sensational return to Ibrox for Steven Gerrard who won one trophy from nine in Scottish football, less than Callum Davidson managed at St Johnstone and Ange Postecoglou achieved in his first season in Glasgow. Gerrard was recently sacked by Aston Villa and may welcome a chance to resume his managerial career back at Ibrox.