'Bring the club back': Giovanni van Bronckhorst sets out Rangers desire ahead of huge PSV tie
The manager played in the group stage of the competition in 1999/2000 under Dick Advocaat when he was a player at Ibrox and came up against PSV Eindhoven, their opponents tonight in Govan in the first leg of a play-off round tie worth an estimated £30million.
“I obviously coached before in the Champions League,” he said. “It’s a tournament you want to be involved with as a club, as player, as a coach. It’s one of the best tournaments in club football in the world. But for me I came here and I wanted to give this club prizes and play against the highest level and that is the Champions League.
“The main thing for me is to qualify and bring the club back to the biggest stage in European football.”
In four of their last five knockout ties in Europe Rangers have played the second leg at home, which is generally accepted to be the preferred scenario in two-legged fixtures.
The only time this was not the case they were forced to endure a nervy night in Belgrade against Red Star Belgrade having established a 3-0 lead at Ibrox en route to the Europa League final in Seville.
The same margin of victory against Ruud van Nistelrooy’s PSV might be too much to hope for but Van Bronckhorst will be desperate to take some form of lead to his homeland next week.
Van Nistelrooy’s side made full use of the advantage of playing the second leg at home in the last round against Monaco and edged through 3-2 after extra-time.
Rangers did likewise against Royale Union Saint-Gilloise although without the need for an extra half an hour. They turned around a 2-0 defeat in the first leg in the regulation 90 minutes urged on by a noisy home crowd.
Ibrox will be in ferment again tonight and Van Bronckhorst urged his players to make the most of this backing.
Ryan Kent and James Sands, who missed Saturday’s 3-0 win over St Johnstone, return to the squad.
“It’s the first game and you want to have a good result to take with you, it’s the same as when we play away,” said the manager. “But of course at home you have to have a good game and that’s what we are trying to do.
“In the knockout stage of the Europa League, Red Star was the first one where we played at home in the first leg. We won 3-0 at home. You want to still be in the tie or have an advantage, of course, when you play the second game away from home. That’s normal.
“We have to be in very good condition and on top of our game. In the last tie against Union, we were under-par playing away and had to give everything to make sure we got through after losing two goals.
“Against PSV, we have to be there for two games and two nights, otherwise you will struggle to go through. The differences now are so little so I think it will be decided by details in the games.
“Because in the end we are preparing the game to win. For my players it’s the same. The rewards you get after the tie are bigger, that’s the pressure, but you don’t have to take it into the game. Just concentrate on your strength and your ability to play well and overcome PSV in two games. That’s all you have to do.”