Ceri Bowley left Rangers regretting he never got to taste the feverish atmosphere of an Ibrox Old Firm clash.
But Gio van Bronckhorst’s former sidekick just hopes his old employers are not left kicking themselves for failing to learn lessons from the Dutchman’s doomed tenure. Like his successor Michael Beale, van Bronckhorst enjoyed the honeymoon period as he settled into his new Govan surroundings. A couple of shocks on the road at Pittodrie and Dingwall aside, things seemed to be going well for the former Feyenoord boss as he quickly built a 13-match unbeaten run.
But the wheels well and truly fell off Rangers’ Premiership push with that Parkhead thrashing last February, with Celtic walking away to claim their title. Those league failures, however, were masked as GVB took on the Ibrox faithful in their emotional Sevilla run. Yet there was simply nothing for his team’s shortcomings to hide this term as Gers were ragdolled by Europe’s elite in their return to the Champions League.
The spiraling effect these humiliating results had on falling domestic displays ultimately cost van Bronckhorst his position as he made way for Beale to take over his farm at the end of last year. Six games in and so far so good for the Londoner after five wins and a draw.
But former City Football Group coaching guru Bowley just hopes history doesn’t repeat itself as he warned patience will be needed as Rangers go through what could be tests of growing pains under their new boss. Bowley, who left the club following Van Bronckhorst’s sacking, said: “The one thing you can never get away with with Glasgow Rangers is that you have to win.
“In the country we took a hit in some results. That will never be accepted in a club like Rangers. Historically and even now, it will never be possible to lose or draw games because you have to win.
“What I will say is that it’s a very special club and I’ve loved every minute of being here. Obviously I wish I could have gone a lot longer than I did.
“But he will always have a special place mainly because of the fans. How he supports his club is incredible. But the work here comes with a responsibility and the fans do not hesitate to hold you accountable.
“Okay, they pay their money and follow you around the world and they have the right to express their frustration when things are not up to the level they expect. No complaints from me here.
“But there must be a realization that when you are in a period of transition, then it takes more time. The fans will hate me for saying, I know, because it is not accepted.
“But something takes time and when you look at the teams that reach the final stage of competitions year after year, they went through a process to get there. Take Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp. It doesn’t start with them winning straight away.
“So competing in the Champions League for the first time in many years for Rangers was important. But the way the group developed was very difficult and that didn’t play that well (with the fans).
“But you almost have to reach those stages for many years before. Look at Spain before they won the World Cup and the Euros, they started to reach those final stages before they really did.
“France is the same. Germany also, almost arrived before winning (the World Cup). So I think there must be an achievement around this and some of the misconceptions around a methodology is that you can only implement overnight.”
Bowley, who has a PhD in sports psychology and coaching science, joined van Bronckhorst’s coaching staff last summer, with the Welshman leading to apply the methods he had developed with his globetrotter role at the CFG, where he was responsible for growing the coaching. standard in Manchester City’s 11 sister clubs.
It is hoped that his unique one-on-one approach will help bring the best out of Ibrox individuals. But he admits Gers’ hectic workload hampered his efforts before he opted to part with van Bronckhorst’s side.
“What you have to remember is that a lot of the time with Rangers, we played three games in six days and there was very little training time anyway, other than individual training time,” he said. “With other teams in the (City Group), we had more training time than what we were blessed with (at Rangers) partly because of the schedule with the Champions League and other competitions. It just made the training a little more difficult.”
Bowley had been looking forward to last week’s derby clash and confessed he didn’t get to see Ibrox in full swing when hosting their bitter rivals. And the football doctor admits he is still scarred by the Parkhead blow in September.
The 35-year-old – who quickly landed a new job as a technical adviser at the ENCL youth league in the US – told the Coaching Academy on American radio station SiriusXM FC: “The derby doesn’t it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced. And it’s not just when the Old Firms are played. The intensity is there every day.
“One of the things I’m most disappointed about is that I’ve never experienced an Old Firm at Ibrox. The one I had was at Parkhead and the result was not favorable for us.
“But they feel all week before the game, the importance of it. One of my biggest disappointments was the score at Parkhead because it’s not what Rangers want and it’s devastating when you lose like that and it affects you for a nice piece
“He made me and he will always scar me in this way because he was my only Old Firm unfortunately. It’s something that I’m really gutted about.
“And the semi-final of the League Cup at Hampden where we qualified but didn’t get to be is another because these moments are special for a club like Rangers because of the level of support you have and the atmosphere they create. They are incredible.”
You can find this story in My bookmarks. Or by navigating to the user icon at the top right.