Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst on the UEFA Europa League final against Frankfurt, his coaching influences and the key to winning big games – interview
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
"We have the character to play this final," says Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst as he prepares his side for the UEFA Europa League decider against Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville.
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As a left-back, Giovanni van Bronckhorst was a two-time Scottish title-winner with Rangers before claiming more trophies with Arsenal and then the UEFA Champions League with Barcelona, but this season's UEFA Europa League final could bring him an even more remarkable success.
Hired in November following Steven Gerrard's departure for Aston Villa, the 47-year-old has led the Light Blues through adversity to the decider in Seville, shaking off the injury-enforced absence of star forward Alfredo Morelos to set up a chance to win the club's second major continental trophy, 50 years on from their 1972 European Cup Winners' Cup triumph. The Dutchman plots his course for glory with UEFA.com.
On final opponents Eintracht Frankfurt
We're facing strong opponents. They've played so many good games in Europe, including [against] some great teams as well, so we have to prepare well. They're the third German team we've faced this year. We played Dortmund and after we had Leipzig. Those teams are a little bit different. They have the same style of play, but their formations are different.
[Frankfurt are] physically quite strong, they have good pace up front, and they're good defensively. Their overall performances in Europe have been fantastic, so it's going to be a really exciting final. We have to make sure we play to our strengths but also respect the opponents because they have quality. We have to make sure we are well prepared to defend well against them.
On reaching the final after taking charge in November
It was a very proud moment because as a player or a manager, you don't get to play a lot of European finals, so I'm very proud to be there together with my team.
[Having played in a UEFA Champions League final, Barcelona's 2-1 defeat of Arsenal in 2006] the most important thing is to make sure you're not distracted by everything, and in the end it's a game, 11 against 11 on the pitch with a referee and a ball. The only difference is the pressure you have, the coverage you have, but we should concentrate only on our performance on the pitch, and that's what we are doing [as we head] towards the game on Wednesday.
On his coaching influences
I think I learned from each and every coach I had. Arsène [Wenger at Arsenal] – it was great to work with him – Dick Advocaat; Guus Hiddink; Frank Rijkaard, where we had a lot of success at Barcelona. Louis van Gaal was my coach in the Dutch [national] team. In the last three or four years of my career, I was thinking back a lot to all the coaches I had and how they prepared games, how we trained, which exercises we did, but, in the end, I can look back and remember all the tactics I had with my teams.
On Rangers right-back James Tavernier being top scorer in the competition
I played as a full-back as well. In my time, you could see the change in the different types of full-backs: more going forward and more supporting the attack than before. It developed even more after I finished my career.
You see so many modern full-backs now, full-backs, wing-backs. James is one of the full-backs who has contributed a lot in attack with his assists and of course with his goals as well, so I'm really happy with his performances. To be the top scorer in the Europa League as a full-back is amazing.
On preparing his players for the big day
They've shown [that they can handle pressure] in big games because we've had a lot of pressure on games this season. Of course, when you're in the knockout stages, it's all or nothing, and the character of my players has been outstanding.
To be able to win against those strong opponents is really good, so we have the character to play this final, we have the qualities, and we also have the belief. That's the most important thing: to have the belief that you can achieve.