THE end just had to come. It wasn't right to prolong the agony - for Rangers, their supporters or indeed Giovanni van Bronckhorst - any longer and the confirmation acted as a pain relief rather than a shock to the system.

Van Bronckhorst lost the faith of the fans some time ago. When he finally lost the backing of the Ibrox board, the call had to be made on Sunday evening to inform him that his time as Rangers manager was over.

The 47-year-old has spent recent days back in Holland with his family no doubt pondering just where it all went wrong, and how it did so at such alarming speed. The World Cup break that Van Bronckhorst hoped would be his saviour this season has belatedly proven to be another factor in his downfall.

Herald and Times Sport revealed on Monday morning that Van Bronckhorst was gone. Just over an hour later, a statement from Ibrox confirmed the news that the Dutchman had slept on and that supporters would wake up to as Rangers closed another chapter.

It had taken longer than many expected but merely delayed the inevitable. Van Bronckhorst had to go and the looming Annual General Meeting next month will have focused minds around the boardroom table as the obvious move was finally completed.

"Rangers Football Club confirms today it has parted company with manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst," the statement read. "The board would like to put on record sincere thanks to Gio for all his efforts since his appointment as manager.

"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."

Even for a club as storied as Rangers, it is quite something to go from a European final to the exit door in just six months. More recent events will shape the early narrative and immediate feelings around Van Bronckhorst but the highs of May should not be overlooked or dismissed by supporters.

Even for a club as storied as Rangers, it is quite something to go from a European final to the exit door in just six months

The nights on the road to Seville should be cherished. The final step against RB Leipzig stands as one of the most emotional and wonderful that fans of any generation have experienced and, for that alone, they must be grateful for Van Bronckhorst.

The Dutchman will not be the only one wondering why the hangover from the defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt lasted as long at Ibrox. Like the aftermath of title 55, it should have been a moment for Rangers to move on from but progress stalled and regression set in.

Doubts over Van Bronckhorst's abilities to deliver the Premiership title were festering in the back of minds following the collapse that saw his side beaten to the silverware by Celtic last term and it was never going to take much for those wounds to be opened up once again.

Van Bronckhorst was all but done when Rangers crumbled to successive 4-0 defeats to Celtic and Ajax but it became a case of death by a thousand cuts as his side stumbled on domestically and were so routinely swatted away in the Champions League in that pointless Group A campaign.

Drawing with Livingston put him on the brink. When the defeat to St Johnstone was followed by another two dropped points at St Mirren, the only way was down and no amount of talk about injury records or time left in the term could save Van Bronckhorst.

“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," Douglas Park, the Rangers chairman, said as he oversaw a dismissal just a year after signing off on the appointment.

“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.”

HeraldScotland: Giovanni van BronckhorstGiovanni van Bronckhorst (Image: SNS)

Those final words are pertinent. Supporters became weary and disillusioned in the closing weeks of the Van Bronckhorst era but there should be no animosity towards a figure who represented himself in the manner that should be expected from someone in his esteemed position.

His last handful of press conferences were conducted the old-fashioned way and his time in the company of the written media saw a personal side of Van Bronckhorst emerge. It was right to be critical of the manager, but hard not to sympathise and empathise with the man.

He did not speak in headlines or seek to play mind games through the Fourth Estate. Open and honest, he didn't take personal offence to the calls for him to be dismissed or the damning judgements and harsh language that were used to reference his tenure.

Van Bronckhorst spoke latterly of the time away from his family and support network as he dealt with erratic performances and unforgivable results, but he always kept a sense of perspective on the game and on life. Whatever issues he was facing, he was cognisant and respectful of events around him and the real world difficulties being faced near and far.

Van Bronckhorst was courteous with his time when permitted and he was pleasant and respectful to deal with personally and professionally. He was unfairly castigated for a perceived lack of emotion in front of the cameras or on the touchline but it would have been impossible for him to reach the levels he did as a player without a sense of drive and a certain edge to his character.

Van Bronckhorst wanted to win at Rangers and it would have been pleasingly welcome if he had defied the old mantra that nice guys finish last and been able to deliver the kind of sustained success that he and supporters hoped would be possible. Ultimately and unfortunately, that never looked likely.

His exit solves one problem for the Ibrox board but it remains to be seen if it fully placates a support that have asked pertinent questions of several key individuals - most specifically Park and Ross Wilson - at Ibrox and matters on and off the field still require attention. The sacking of Van Bronckhorst will not be a panacea and should not be seen as such.

As always, it is the manager that carries the can and pays the price, but the failings of this season are not solely down to Van Bronckhorst. Those he has left behind now have the opportunity to correct their mistakes.

As always, it is the manager that carries the can and pays the price, but the failings of this season are not solely down to Van Bronckhorst

The case for the defence could cite the wretched luck with injuries and a signing record that is less than impressive but Van Bronckhorst should have done better with those that he had at his disposal and he repeatedly took ownership of the squad that he was working with. The issues with the group are now for someone else to solve in the short and medium terms.

Many will have a heavy heart that it transpired in the manner it did for Van Bronckhorst. His tenure may not have worked out, but that doesn't mean he was the wrong call at the time or that he didn't have moments that should be noted at Ibrox.

In the end, it had to end. Van Bronckhorst can be put out of his misery and Rangers can now look forward. Time will tell if it is onwards and upwards or not.


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