Last season will go down in history at Ibrox for several reasons, as after managerial change, a hard-fought league campaign, a Scottish Cup triumph, and a Europa League final, there is much for the Ibrox faithful to reflect on.
How can Rangers Build on This Season?
How can Rangers Build on This Season?
Scottish Premiership Winner 22/23
RANGERS @ 6/5
A Quick Recap
After an invincible league-winning campaign in 2020/21, in November, then-manager Steven Gerrard departed Glasgow to fill the vacancy at Aston Villa, confirming suspicions that a move to the Premier League was always the Liverpudlian’s goal.
Gerrard’s departure left Rangers somewhat in the lurch, taking place just days before a semi-final against Hibernian which they subsequently lost 3-1 under the supervision of youth coach David McCallum.
Fortunately, just days later, club legend Giovanni van Bronkhorst took charge as head coach, marking the start of a new era at Ibrox.
Since his arrival, the Dutchman boasts an incredible record, as 28 wins, seven draws and six losses leaves him with an impressive 2.22 points per game return. The lone, but somewhat sizable, black mark against van Bronkhorst's time at Rangers is his league finish, as when he was appointed, Rangers were six points clear at the top, but ultimately lost out to rivals Celtic.
Whilst disappointing, this can potentially be forgiven, owing to their unprecedented run to the Europa League final where in truth, the Glaswegians were unlucky to fall at the final hurdle losing out to Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties.
Just three days later, Rangers' final game of the season saw them meet Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final, with extra-time goals from Ryan Jack and Scott Wright securing a well-deserved piece of silverware.
Chance of Champions League
By missing out on automatic Champions League qualification to league winners Celtic, the Bears have seen their rivals pocket a tidy £40 million. However, their second-place finish in the SPFL sees them enter qualification at the third round, meaning Champions League football is still feasible at Ibrox next season.
Rangers enter qualification as a seeded team, meaning their possible opponents include AS Monaco, Sturm Graz, Union Saint-Gilloise, and one of Midtjylland, Fenerbahce, and AEK Larnaca dependent on matches amongst these three sides.
If they do progress, they would face the winners of the games involving these teams, however, they also have the possibility of playing fellow seeded teams PSV Eindhoven and Dynamo Kyiv.
Whilst this all sounds challenging on paper, it must be remembered that in their run to the Europa League final, Rangers bested German giants Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig, so will be feared opponents for any potential opposition with their recent European pedigree.
Furthermore, with the play-offs being two-legged affairs, Rangers will be confident of utilising the unmatched atmosphere seen at Ibrox this season, with their fans acting as a 12th man at times inspiring huge results on the European stage.
If the Gers can return to the Champions League, this would secure the £40 million windfalls awarded to rivals Celtic, as well as be a persuasive factor for any transfer targets this summer.
Van Bronkhorst's Summer Rebuild
Despite the success of 2021/22, ahead of next season, reinforcements are certainly expected to come through the Ibrox doors this summer.
The prize money from the Europa League could go a long way, as Rangers are rumoured to be in the market for a goalkeeper, centre back, and striker.
Starting at the back, following proceedings in the Scottish Cup Final where current number one Allan McGregor was brought on in the final minutes seemingly as a farewell appearance, Rangers will need a new man between the sticks.
Whether they chose to promote back-up Jon McLaughlin to the first choice or scour the market for a new number one, either way, a McGregor replacement is a necessity.
Moving up the pitch, with current centre-back Connor Goldson out of contract this summer, van Bronkhorst will certainly need to replace the Englishman if he doesn’t sign a new deal. The defender has been ever-present for the Blues this season, appearing 61 times and featuring in every competition Rangers have been a part of.
Barring a late change of heart, Goldson looks to have his eyes on a move south, with his impressive performances in Europe acting as a shop window for his many potential suitors.
The last area Rangers must improve on is at striker, as in the absence of striker Alfredo Morelos, the Blues have too often looked blunt when attacking.
Although the Bears progressed through the latter stages of the Europa League without the Colombian, he has certainly been missed, as his deputy in Kemar Roofe is a significant drop-off offering no real presence in crucial moments.
There is no doubt Morelos will remain first choice at Ibrox next season, however with the prospect of another long campaign ahead, van Bronkhorst would be wise to add a reliable rotation/ backup option.
Naturally, van Bronkhorst will have his own plans already drawn up for the summer, with Rangers fans hopeful this extends beyond just three positions. In more ways than one, this summer is bound to be crucial for Rangers, potentially setting up the Glasgow club for another big season in 2022/23.
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