Ceri Bowley left Rangers regretting that he never got to taste the fevered atmosphere of an Ibrox Old Firm clash.
But Gio van Bronckhorst’s former assistant can only hope his old employers don’t get too worked up about failing to learn the lessons of the Dutchman’s doomed tenure. Just like his successor Michael Beale, van Bronckhorst enjoyed his honeymoon as he settled into his new surroundings at Govan. Apart from a few bumps in the road at Pittodrie and Dingwall, things seemed to be going smoothly for the former Feyenoord boss as he quickly made it 13 games unbeaten.
But the wheels really fell off after Rangers’ Premiership push with that Parkhead thrashing last February, with Celtic racing to reclaim their title. However, those league failings were glossed over as GVB took the Ibrox faithful on their thrilling ride in Sevilla. However, there was simply no place for his side’s shortcomings to be hidden in this term as the Gers were run down by Europe’s elite upon their return to the Champions League.
The spiraling effect these humiliating results had on plummeting domestic viewings ultimately cost van Bronckhorst his position as he made way for Beale to take over at the end of last year. Six games so far so good for the Londoner after five wins and a draw.
But former City Football Group coaching guru Bowley can only hope history doesn’t repeat itself as he warned patience will be needed as Rangers work through what could be some testing growth issues under their new boss. Bowley, who left the club following the sacking of van Bronckhorst, said: “The thing you can never get away with at Glasgow Rangers is that you have to win.
“We failed in some results at home. That will never be acceptable at a club like Rangers. Historically, as now, it will never be possible to lose or draw because you have to win.
“What I will say is that it’s a very special club and I’ve loved every minute of my time there. I obviously wish it could have lasted longer than it did.
“But it will always have a special place mainly because of the fans. The way they support their club is incredible. But working there comes with responsibility and the fans don’t hesitate to hold you accountable.
“That’s fine, they pay their money and follow you around the world and they have the right to express their frustration when things aren’t up to their expectations. No complaints from me.
“But there has to be a realization that when you’re in a transition period, then it takes more time. The fans will hate me for saying that, I know, because it’s just not accepted.
“But something takes time and when you look at the teams that get to the final stages of the competition year after year, they’ve gone through a process to get there. Take Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. It didn’t start with them that they won right away.
“That’s why competing in the Champions League for the first time in so many years was important for Rangers. But the way the group went about it was very difficult and that didn’t go over so well (with the fans).
“But you almost have to reach those stages for several years. Look at Spain before they won the World Cup and the Euros, they started to arrive in those latter stages before they actually did it.
“France is the same. Germany also almost arrived before the victory (of the World Cup). So I think that has to be understood, and some of the misconceptions about the methodology are that you can implement it overnight.”
Bowley, who holds a doctorate in sports psychology and coaching science, joined van Bronckhorst’s coaching staff last summer and the Welshman has applied the methods he developed in his traveling role at CFG, where he was responsible for the development of standard-setting coaches at 11 sister clubs. Manchester City.
It was hoped that his unique one-on-one approach would help bring out the best in individuals at Ibrox. But he admits Gers’ busy workload hampered his efforts before opting to go along with van Bronckhorst’s back-up squad.
“What you have to remember is that most of the time with Rangers we played three games in six days and there was very little training time anyway, let alone individual training time,” he said. “With the 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 training a little more difficult.”
Bowley watched last week’s derby eagerly and admitted he was still sore from not being able to see Ibrox in full force when they hosted their bitter rivals. And the football doctor admits he is still scarred from the Parkhead thrashing in September.
The 35-year-old – who quickly landed a new job as technical adviser to the ENCL Youth League in the United States – told the Coaching Academy on US radio station SiriusXM FC: “The derby is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. And not just when the Old Firms are playing The intensity is there every day.
“One of the things I’m most disappointed about is that I never got to experience the Old Firm at Ibrox. The one I had was at Parkhead and the result was not favorable for us.
“But you feel it all week before the game, the importance of it. One of my biggest disappointments was the result at Parkhead because it’s not what Rangers want and it’s devastating when you lose like that and it affects you for a long time.
“He made me and he will always leave me that way because unfortunately it was my only old firm. That’s one thing I’m really mad about.
“And the League Cup semi-final at Hampden that we qualified for but won’t get to is another one because those moments are special for a club like Rangers because of the level of support you get and the atmosphere they create. They are amazing.”
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