A FIRST league title in almost two decades could have been the turning point for Feyenoord.

Instead, the silver lining three years ago has proven to be something of a false dawn for one of the great names in European football.

Feyenoord now, once again, find themselves in a period of transition at present. The success earned under the guidance of Giovanni van Bronckhorst is still fresh in the memory, but it is another Dutch legend - former Manchester United, Lazio and AC Milan defender Jaap Stam - that now holds the reins in Rotterdam.

Since winning the Eredivisie title three years ago, Feyenoord have finished fourth and third, but a distant 17 and 21 points behind respective champions PSV and Ajax.

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That was still good enough to earn them a shot at the Europa League this season, though, and Stam will bring his side to Ibrox on Thursday night to face Rangers in the opening match in a section that also includes Porto and Young Boys.

“It is a new era for Feyenoord now that Gio has stopped and Jaap Stam has come in,” former Gers striker Michael Mols said. “But the problem is, compared to other clubs in Holland like Ajax and PSV, Feyenoord are struggling a bit with the money. That is a problem. They have some quality players but the selection is very small so if they have any injuries then they have a problem.

“Now they are struggling a little bit in the league but they are still a team you have to be aware of. They now have a new manager in Jaap Stam and they have brought in some new players in the transfer window.

“They still have quality in the team so the Rangers fans have to have that in mind and the team need to be careful against them.”

A 3-2 victory at home to ADO Den Haag at the weekend was just the second Stam’s side have recorded from five league outings this term and Feyenoord sit seventh in the standings ahead of their Ibrox trip.

But Mols has warned against underestimating a side that are still more than capable of causing Rangers problems on a hugely significant night of European action.

“Of course Feyenoord will be confident and they will come to Ibrox thinking that they can win the game,” he said. “They have got some new signings that want to show what they can do and they have players who can do the damage. Jaap Stam will have a good idea for the game and he will come to Ibrox to win the game.

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“I think the winger, Steven Berghuis, is a dangerous player and a good player. He is very quick, very skilful and he has a good shot with his left so he is someone that Rangers will have to be aware of.

“It is always in the nature of teams from Holland to play football, to attack. We are not defensively minded, we don’t look to park the bus. There is a certain kind of mind that means they will attack and they have some dangerous players up front, players with pace and individual skills. Rangers have to be careful.

“But, on the other hand, they are playing at home and with 50,000 supporters behind you, it can do a lot to help the team.”

The Ibrox crowd certainly had a part to play in the play-off round as Legia Warsaw were dramatically beaten in the final minute.

It was the second time that Gerrard has steered his side through all four qualifiers and the emotions on that memorable evening at Ibrox said it all about how important an achievement it was for the Light Blues.

Mols was no stranger to such occasions during his successful Gers career and the 48-year-old, back at Ibrox for the win over Livingston on Saturday, hopes there will be more big moments under the floodlights.

He said: “The European nights at Ibrox are always special and they are always games for the players and the supporters to look forward to.

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“Unfortunately they didn’t have those games for a while but it was very good to get to the group stages last season and hopefully Rangers can get off to a good start against Feyenoord.

“You saw the celebrations against Legia and what it meant to everyone here – the fans, the manager and the squad. It can do a lot for the whole team having European football and it is very important for the stature of the club to be involved in Europe.

“Unfortunately it is still not Champions League just yet but they are working on it and I think it will give them another boost to be back. That could give them a boost in the league.

“The most important thing is to keep progressing as a team so hopefully they can get to the next stage and take the confidence and the pleasure from that. If they can take that into the league, hopefully come the end of the season they will have the title.”

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