THERE was never going to be a good time for Giovanni van Bronckhorst to see his winning run as Rangers manager come to an end in the Premiership.

In truth, there are worse places for it to happen than Pittodrie. It was a case of two points dropped rather than one earned on Tuesday night, however, as Rangers failed to re-establish their six point lead in the title race.

The Scottish Cup clash with Stirling Albion on Friday evening provides the champions with a quickfire chance to get back to winning ways. And league outings with Livingston and Ross County should be negotiated before the crunch Old Firm showdown.

A Lewis Ferguson penalty cancelled out Ianis Hagi’s opener to earn the Dons a share of the spoils. Here are five key talking points for Rangers to assess in the Pittodrie post mortem.


Hindsight is, of course, a wonderful thing but it is not being smart after the event to say that Van Bronckhorst picked the wrong team and then made the wrong switches on Tuesday night.

His options in the middle of the park are limited due to injury and Joe Aribo’s international absence. It was a brave decision to pitch James Sands in for his debut and the right one to utilise Hagi in a central area.

But it was hard to see what Scott Wright was going to bring to the side against former club and the winger is running out of opportunities to really assert himself at Ibrox.

At the time, Fashion Sakala seemed the best option wide right. He provides the same pace and directness as Wright, but carries more of a goal threat.

When Wright was replaced by John Lundstram for the final half hour, it was a signal that Van Bronckhorst was happy with his lot.

It was always going to be a difficult ask to ride out the inevitable storm, though, and Rangers paid the price for being too placid in their approach overall.


The final days of the transfer window are of huge significance for Rangers. Get it wrong and the title and Champions League cash could quickly disappear out of sight.

Rangers are stretched in terms of bodies. More importantly, the champions need those on the fringes to really step up in the coming weeks.

A replacement for Nathan Patterson is an obvious target, but a wide right option is a pressing concern and Van Bronckhorst must strengthen in that area to improve his forward line.

The returns of Filip Helander and Leon Balogun will ease the fears at centre-back but no timescale has been set, publicly at least, for Kemar Roofe to provide competition at the other end of the park.

Van Bronckhorst ruled Scott Arfield and Steven Davis out of contention on Monday but didn't provide specifics in terms of injuries or timeframe. Ryan Jack is back training once again but cannot yet be relied upon after almost 12 months of frustration and Aribo’s absence is indeterminable as he bids for AFCON glory.

Jack Simpson, Juninho Bacuna and Lundstram, alongside Cedric Itten, were the experienced options on the bench. The first three are not going to help Rangers become champions, while the Swiss has a point to prove after returning from Gruether Furth.


It is fair to say that Van Bronckhorst doesn’t see Lundstram as an integral part of his midfield at present. Right now, he is not an irreplaceable part of the squad, either.

The Scouser has played just 82 minutes since Van Bronckhorst replaced Steven Gerrard as manager and he hasn’t started since the win away to St Mirren in October.

Sands was preferred ahead of him against the Dons as the American came straight into the team following his arrival from New York City and the introduction of Lundstram didn’t have the desired effect as Rangers struggled to control the middle of the park.

The move from Sheffield United just hasn’t worked out and Rangers are not getting value for money from one of the top earners within the Ibrox squad.

It is hard to argue that those funds couldn’t be better utilised on a player that fits more seamlessly into Van Bronckhorst’s blueprint and Lundstram appears to already be facing a fight for his future at Rangers.


The movement and the finish from Hagi were both excellent as he drifted in between the Dons defence and diverted Ryan Kent’s cross into the net from close range.

That was a rare moment of inspiration from the Romanian, however, and it was another night where he too often flattered to deceive. He is capable of much better, but still lacks the consistency to become a really influential performer for Rangers.

The loss of Aribo is a sore one to take for Van Bronckhorst but he needs the likes of Hagi, Kent and Wright to fill the void left by the Nigerian. Kent has just two goals this term, while Wright sits on four at present.

Rangers couldn’t find any attacking rhythm for long spells against Aberdeen and there was a lack of invention in behind Alfredo Morelos as he quickly became an isolated figure through the middle.

The champions are capable of better, both individually and collectively. As Van Bronckhorst continues to work with his squad, he is still waiting for his side to really click in the final third.


The reaction, the sense of frustration and anger, from supporters was understandable and Rangers will hope they are not left to rue the four points that have been squandered against Aberdeen. For all the Dons have played well at Ibrox and Pittodrie, Rangers could easily have won both games if they had performed as expected.

Tricky tests on the road at Livingston, Hibernian and Hearts have been overcome since Van Bronckhorst’s appointment and Rangers have a chance to find their feet once again before they make the trip to Parkhead for a crunch Old Firm fixture.

Van Bronckhorst has been a steady, cautious operator in front of the cameras so far and he gives little away in terms of his emotions. As fans get used to that change from Gerrard, they will have to trust the Dutchman.

His start as manager has been impressive overall and he remains unbeaten. As poor as Tuesday night was, there is no need to jump to conclusions right now.