Giovanni van Bronckhorst: Rangers cannot compete with Champions League’s best

The Light Blues suffered a 4-0 defeat by Ajax in their first group game in 12 years.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst: Rangers cannot compete with Champions League’s best

By Ronnie Esplin, PA, Amsterdam

Giovanni van Bronckhorst admitted that Rangers cannot compete with the top teams in the Champions League following the 4-0 hammering by Ajax.

The Light Blues were thrashed 4-0 by Old Firm rivals Celtic on Saturday and there was more woe in the Group A opener in the Johan Cruyff Arena.

Midfielder Edson Alvarez headed in from a corner in the 17th minute before Gers defender James Sands redirected a Steven Berghuis shot into his own net after 32 minutes with Mohammed Kudus thundering in a drive a minute later.

In the Gers’ first Champions League group game in 12 years, Steven Bergwijn added a fourth with 10 minutes remaining.

Van Bronckhorst, who brought seven players in during the transfer window, told BT Sport: “To compete in the Champions League you need hundreds of millions. Otherwise you can’t compete.

“Look at Ajax, they sold players worth over £200million. Look at Liverpool as well. For us to compete with them, it’s too much to ask.

“We want to compete but we want to compete with the squad we have and the squad we’re capable of making.

 

“We knew it would be tough and it showed today.

“I’m very disappointed.

“We knew the Champions League would be a high level and I think the level we faced against Ajax showed throughout the game with how good and how strong they are.

“We have to be 100 per cent to be ready for the game.

“You saw that everything goes quicker in the Champions League. The pressure we get, the thinking on the ball, the ball control, the speed of passing. It’s all from a really high level.

Ajax v Rangers – UEFA Champions League – Group A – Johan Cruyff Arena
Rangers captain James Tavernier was replaced at half-time against Ajax after picking up an injury (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“In the first half especially, we couldn’t reach that level and struggled. Every mistake you make on the pitch will be punished by a team like Ajax.”

Van Bronckhorst, who revealed skipper James Tavernier, one of three players substituted at half-time, came off with an injury, insisted that his players “are committed.”

He said: “The performance wasn’t good. They want to play the way we want. They want to fight, they want to work hard.

“But against an opponent like Ajax when you’re not organised in the way you should be, it’s going to be really tough.

“I think the level we’re used to and the level we need to reach in the Champions League is a big difference.”

Ajax v Rangers – UEFA Champions League – Group A – Johan Cruyff Arena
Steven Bergwijn scores Ajax’s fourth goal after Ryan Jack’s ‘blind pass’ had given the ball away (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Half-time substitute Ryan Jack, who gave away the ball with a “blind pass” for the fourth goal, apologised to the Gers fans and is looking to make amends against Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Saturday.

He told BT Sport: “Having two 4-0 defeats on the bounce does affect you, individually and collectively.

“But that’s for us in the changing room to stick together and, along with the staff, we will fight our way through it.

“It’s important that we come out on Saturday and do that.

“We have let a lot of people down and we need to apologise to the fans, who have sacrificed to make this trip and back us.

“All we can do is apologise and make sure we are ready to get the win on Saturday.”

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