Politics

Rangers and Steven Gerrard relationship was hot and steamy but Gio van Bronckhorst love looks built to last – Andrew Newport

When Steven Gerrard packed his bags to shack up with his new squeeze down at Villa Park last month, the fear amongst the Rangers faithful was the divorce proceedings could get messy for their team.

But as the champions prepare to spend their first Christmas with new love interest Giovanni van Bronckhorst, most fans are coming to realise that maybe a parting of the ways was best for all concerned at Ibrox.

No-one is going to forget about that three-and-a-half year fling with the former Liverpool legend.

At times it was hot and steamy. There were wild nights of passion in Europe and against Celtic, while last year’s title triumph really swept the supporters off their feet.

But no matter how much the fans tried to convince themselves this was a meaningful, deep-rooted union that would last the test of time, inside they always knew Gerrard’s wandering eye would one day drawn him back to his one-true love down south.

The only surprise when the end came, was that it wasn’t Liverpool popping the question.

No-one can be shocked that Gerrard had decided to cut and run, though.

A relationship that was so mutually beneficial last year quickly began to sour once the new campaign got underway.

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Yes there were showy declarations that his feelings for the club still burned strong, like when he raced onto the pitch to celebrate with all four Ibrox stands after October’s narrow win against Hibs.

But the flame he held for the club was on the fade and he didn’t exactly fight to save the relationship once Aston Villa came batting their eyelids.

As is often the case, money worries were at the heart of the relationship trouble. Once Gerrard started complaining about his budget – especially with performance levels on the slide – then it was inevitable he’d be for the offski.

Maybe the truth was the partnership had run its course and it was time for a new voice to come in.

The break-up left Gers in the lurch at Hampden as they lost to Hibs in the Premier Sports Cup semi-finals but newly single Gers were ready to mingle and Ross Wilson’s speed dating recruitment process saw them rekindle an old romance.

Van Bronckhorst was no rebound appointment, however, and there are signs already he’s helped a string of Gers’ key men fall back in love with football.

Just look at Alfredo Morelos for starters.

He’s got a love-love relationship with the Ibrox supporters but he hadn’t looked all too happy before the Dutchman’s arrival.

The moody blue is at his best when he’s in the face of defenders, causing havoc in the penalty box but Gerrard’s tactics meant he spent far too much time dropping deep to link play.

It’s was one of the first tweaks van Bronckhorst made when he swept into Ibrox, instructing the striker to get himself back to where he’s most lethal.

And it’s working. Having managed just seven goals in 21 appearances under Gerrard this season, Wednesday’s opener against St Johnstone means the Colombian has now managed five in his six run-outs under the new manager.

There’s also been a couple of assists to show he’s buying into a team ethic that had sagged in the final days under the previous regime.

Gers are working harder but they’re also working smarter.

With wingers Ryan Kent and Ianis Hagi staying wide instead of running channels like they did under Gerrard, there’s now plenty more room for the likes of midfield men Joe Aribo and Scott Arfield to manoeuvre inside.



Then again, Aribo’s sublime skills mean he could carve a way clear even if he was being triple marked inside a phone box.

This lad has it all. His first touch seems to have the gravitational pull of a small planet and he left Ibrox astounded when he pulled one out the sky the other night against Saints.

If Gers don’t find a way to get the former Charlton ace tied down on a new contract before his deal expires in 18 months’ time, they risk missing out on extracting top value for a player who looks unstoppable right now. And the same goes for Kent and Morelos.

Connor Goldson is taking on more responsibility in starting attacks, helped no doubt by the increasing confidence he has in rookie defensive partner Calvin Bassey as the former Leicester kids continues to mature as a centre-back with every game.

And in goal, Allan McGregor’s appears to have had a swig at the elixir of youth, with the creaking limbs which had some questioning if it was time up for the former Scotland stopper now back to their agile best.

Gerrard’s departure was tough on the fans but there will be no love lost if Gio can take their team back to another title triumph.




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