Giovanni van Bronckhorst takes over at Rangers after Steven Gerrard left for Aston Villa; Rangers are top of the Scottish Premiership, four points ahead of rivals Celtic in second; they play Hibernian at Hampden Park on Sunday in Scottish League Cup semi-final
Friday 19 November 2021 07:01, UK
Rangers have appointed Giovanni van Bronckhorst as manager.
Van Bronckhorst has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal, Sky Sports News has been told, taking him up until the summer of 2025.
The former Rangers, Arsenal and Barcelona defender returns to Ibrox, subject to receipt of a work permit, to succeed Steven Gerrard, who left to manage Premier League side Aston Villa.
His first game in charge will be Thursday's Europa League game against Sparta Prague.
Rangers are four points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership, still in the hunt for qualification from their Europa League group and face Hibernian in the League Cup semi-final on Sunday.
"I am absolutely delighted to be returning to Rangers as the club's new manager," said Van Bronckhorst, who will be presented on Monday.
"I feel so lucky to be going to work with a squad which is in a great position on all fronts and largely has that experience of being winners.
"I look forward to carrying on and enhancing the work that has been done already alongside Ross Wilson and the board of the club, and I'm grateful for the chance to work again at this huge club.
"I cannot wait to meet the club's incredible supporters again and begin this new era for us all."
Former Netherlands striker Roy Maakay will join van Bronckhorst at Rangers as one of his assistants. He previously worked with van Bronckhorst as a coach at Feyenoord.
Following Sunday's clash against Hibs, Rangers face Sparta Prague in the Europa League at Ibrox before key away matches in the league at Livingston and Hibernian.
Van Bronckhorst was on a long list of candidates Rangers have been tracking over a long period of time, says sporting director Ross Wilson.
It meant Rangers were able to act swiftly, deciding on the new manager within six days of Gerrard's exit.
The Scottish Premiership champions' key goal was to make the right appointment for the future of the club, with Champions League qualification all but guaranteed if they retain their title this season.
"I am delighted to welcome Gio back to Rangers," said Wilson. "He was respected throughout Europe as a player and has already shown why he has that same respect as a coach.
"Gio has already shown himself to be a winner, he knows the club, he knows the quality of the squad and is absolutely aligned with our approach and mindset.
"Outside of the formal discussions, Gio and I have already had numerous other informal conversations and I can see how excited he is. I am looking forward to introducing him to the squad soon."
The Dutchman played for Rangers between 1998 and 2001, winning five trophies, including two league titles, before spells at some of Europe's elite clubs such as Arsenal and Barcelona.
After hanging up his boots at Feyenoord in 2010, the 46-year-old went on to join the coaching set-up under Ronald Koeman at the Dutch club, before taking full control in 2015.
He led Feyenoord to KNVB Cup success in his first full season in charge, before sealing the Eredivisie title the year after - the club's first in 18 years.
Van Bronckhorst went on to join Chinese Super League club Guangzhou City, where, after finishing 11th, he quit to return to his family.
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports News, originally published in May 2020, the former Netherlands captain revealed how spending five months with the City group, studying Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola's methods, helped shape his own philosophy and approach to coaching.
The 45-year-old also benefitted from the experience of facing up against the Spaniard in the group stages of the Champions League in opposing dugouts, as Guardiola's City overcame Van Bronckhorst's Feyenoord 4-0 in the Netherlands and 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium back in the 2017/18 campaign.
"Last year I spent five months with the City group and a lot of time in Manchester with Pep," Van Bronckhorst told Sky Sports News. "He was very open. He talked about the training sessions and I could watch and see everything and talk with his staff.
"Those are moments you can see him really in action and he is a very special coach. Those months with him in Manchester I could see a lot of things I didn't see before and it helped to develop me as a coach.
"Pep is a coach at the moment who is influencing a lot of young coaches. And he's not the only one, Jurgen Klopp is doing a great job at Liverpool."
Last season, Gerrard, who was appointed Rangers boss in 2018, helped the Glasgow side win a record-breaking 55th Scottish league title - their first top-flight title since 2011.
As he was announced Villa head coach, Gerrard expressed his gratitude to all at Rangers for the opportunity to manage "such an iconic football club" and said last season's achievements "will always hold a special place in my heart".
On Thursday at his first news conference as Villa head coach, Gerrard further explained why he left Ibrox.
"It was a difficult decision and one I've taken with a heavy heart," he said.
"I've built some great relationships up at Rangers and it's a club I've got immense respect for.
"I was given a remit three-and-a-half years ago and we went on a journey and completed that remit.
"Ten days ago the opportunity came to join another iconic club and I think it's important to make sure that this press conference is about Aston Villa.
"It was an opportunity that I couldn't let pass me by."
Speaking on Sky Sports News, Dutch football expert Marcel van der Kraan said:
"The club was in a very similar position to Rangers. Feyenoord hadn't won the league for 18 years, there was no money, he had to work with young players with one or two bigger names he tried to bring in through his contacts. Nobody expected that he could beat Ajax with all their money, big squad and big players.
"At Feyenoord he built and built and just kept on building - it worked out brilliantly. He won the cup, he won the league. The football was great and the stadium was full.
"I'm not saying he'll turn all that immediately into magic at Ibrox but he is a guy who has been around. I think he has all that luggage in his backpack and he'll use it very calmly.
"It's the sort of experience you want when you want a manager to take over a squad who still have to develop in many ways.
"He's a very calm kind of a guy, he's not a hot head. He's very composed but he knows what he wants. Don't fall out with him and don't try to upset him."