'We need to change it around big time' - the Rangers reaction that says it all after Union Saint-Gilloise debacle

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has conceded his team were “lucky” to escape with only a 2-0 defeat in their Champions League qualifier away to Union Saint-Gilloise.

Referee Irfan Peljto looks at the VAR screen before awarding a penalty to USG.
Referee Irfan Peljto looks at the VAR screen before awarding a penalty to USG.

And though the Dutchman firmly believes his team capable of retrieving the deficit at Ibrox next Tuesday to avoid exiting at the third qualifying round, he concedes his team performance will have to be a world apart from the shoddiness of their display in Lueven.

The Ibrox manager was left flummoxed by that and the VAR award of a 74th-penalty by Bosnian referee Irfan Peljto for a Connor Goldson handball that ensued from the ball ricocheting towards him after a block from Ben Davies on a sorry night for the Europa League finalists from last season. But the spot-kick, converted for the Belgian’s second, was the focus of his dismay over the proceedings.

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“We were a little bit lucky that it’s only 2-0 although the penalty decision I was surprised at,” Van Bronckhorst said. “If you have so much at stake for all the clubs in the competition, you want to take the right decision. I think we couldn’t do anything else with the deflection and the hand ball but you know the penalty was given and they scored. [But] the most important thing is to reflect on our own game. We need to turn it around on Tuesday and we need to change it around big time. We are still in the tie. A 2-0 difference is one we are capable of making up at Ibrox but … if we have the same performance as today, we have no chance. We were sloppy, losing a lot of balls, not winning the duels and they became better and better and we didn’t react well after that. We were never really in the game, a lot of mistakes, giving many transition moments away defensively. It was the basics of the game – quick passing, the control, the awareness of where the pressure comes from. I think defensively at times we didn’t look strong. Losing balls too much, like we don’t normally do. I am confident if we change those things around we have to have a much better performance.”

Van Bronckhorst rejected the suggestion his decision to operate with a back three, and the ineffectiveness of his new signings – particularly Antonio Colak and Rabbi Matondo – were central to an abject showing.

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“Six on the pitch [at the start] they played in the Europa League final,” he said. “We looked like we weren’t comfortable on the ball, and that surprised me. We can be much more effective in our game play when we have the ball but we didn’t show that. It’s a new season. We lost players [in Calvin Bassey and Joe Aribo], we got players on board. For them it is a new experience, new environment, so you always have changes like that. That’s part of football. We lost together.”

The loss of Ryan Kent to injury beforehand proved a notable miss. And while the Rangers manager expressed hopes of a quick return the news was not so encouraging on the absent John Souttar. “Ryan had some problems with his ankle [in the win over Livingston at the weekend], hope he will be better for Saturday [at home to Kilmarnock]. Or Tuesday [the return leg]. John also has a problem. We don’t know exactly what the problem is but we are assessing him.”

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