A NEW regime is set to be named at Rangers and with that an array of possibilities.

Steven Gerrard’s departure was unexpected and will remain raw for some time yet. However, the arrival of ex-player Giovanni van Bronckhorst offers the potential of quick supporter buy-in – given his history with the club and managerial credentials.

Gerrard’s legacy will undoubtedly now be largely defined by what happens next – he does, however, leave his predecessor with a platform for success if he's able to start quickly.

Van Bronckhorst assumes a job that is in no way similar to the one Gerrard took on three years ago, both on and off the pitch. The Scottish champions now boast a squad full of internationals, with several players entering their prime and others still yet to reach potential.

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While not without some concern of decline this season, the current playing staff has shown signs in recent weeks of recovering principles and reassuming identity. As demonstrated by the rolling xG and xG conceded season trendline.

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Equally, this season brought some concerning patterns. Notably the repeated concession of the first goal and a drop off in European performance.

The identity that has been assembled since 2018 will be subject to change – but some foundations and non-negotiables that translate to the new regime’s vision of Rangers could remain.

The defining features of Gerrard’s Rangers

If ever an image characterised Gerrard’s Rangers spell it was the 4-3-3 mid-block. Tight and compact, showing play outside and sliding with possession across the grass. At its best, it provided a platform to compete with top European opposition.

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The former management team wanted to 'own the pitch' without possession and 'own the ball' with it. Gerrard often referenced being hard to play against as one of the most important factors in his team’s approach.

The Rangers Review had suggested previously that this system was beginning to become exposed against certain outfits. The former manager admitted himself in pre-season that he required greater tactical variation.

Furthermore, a lack of aggression from the front and a disjointed press in the earlier periods of the campaign led to an obvious vulnerability to the long ball.

Offensively, the side was well-coached in recognisable patterns of play, loved to occupy the half-spaces and retained width from full-backs. Classic goals included third-man runs from midfield, assists from either flank following build-up through wide triangles and individual out-playing in the final third.

In recent weeks more variation was recognisable, specifically between the spacing of full-backs and inside forwards. There was even a brief sighting of Fashion Sakala glued to the touchline as a driving winger, post his hat-trick against Motherwell.

READ MORE: Why driving wingers could be Rangers' next tactical variation 

Hindsight will determine whether, after three long seasons, change will bring benefit. Every team has a cycle and while summer arrivals have started to make an impact in the past month or two, the core of this side is now in its fourth season together.

There are numerous examples of groups having a certain lifespan that culminates in a major refresh of the playing squad or managerial change. Mauricio Pochettino was so popular at Tottenham the club attempted to bring him back this year - despite being dismissed in 2019 by Daniel Levy.

“We have a talented squad. We need to re-energise and look to deliver a positive season for our supporters,” Levy said at the time.

It’s important to not be too revisionist looking back at this season in particular. The aforementioned upturn was legitimate, there was a Covid outbreak and the squad looked in a healthier place than it had all season prior to this latest international break.

From a performance aspect, perhaps the invincible league season was as high as Gerrard believed he could take this team. The squad lost just three games in all competitions in season 21/22 and the domination merited more than the one trophy attained.

What will the new regime change?

Van Bronckhorst won’t be afforded the luxury of a pre-season to really cement ideas – which makes the discussion of the previously referenced principles all the more important.

Change will be gradual given the busy spell of matches between now and the new year. Between domestic and European commitments, recovery and match preparation – time on the training pitch will be limited. Nonetheless, anticipate notable and immediate alterations to individual player roles and some of the more specific elements of Gerrard’s tactical blueprint.

Looking specifically at Van Bronckhorst’s Feyenoord team, it appears unrealistic to assume that he will play with two No.10s. This is a ploy that Rangers have rarely strayed away from throughout the past two and a half years.

Even as the midfield three gradually transitioned to more of a two domestically, it has been commonplace for the midfield to reflect two 6s and an 8 with up to three No.10s behind one central forward.

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The intention was to always occupy half-spaces and nine times out of 10, ask either full-back to provide width, allowing the attackers to drive centrally at teams and occupy dangerous zones of the pitch.

This led to great success and was the catalyst for breaking down deep defences. However, further evolution was needed to negate opposition game plans that flooded the centre and gave up spaces on the wings. As Aberdeen showed recently at Ibrox.

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It also at times led to approach play becoming one-dimensional and Rangers’ best one-on-one assets playing in crowded areas.

Van Bronckhorst will want to dictate the width of the pitch, but may well do so by interchanging where either wide forward is stationed. This feature could benefit Ryan Kent in particular and Fashion Sakala.

It's interesting to note how Steven Berghuis was used during his title-winning season at Feyenoord, in which he occupied wide starting positions and attacked from out to in.

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A look at Sakala's carry map from the 6-1 over Motherwell shows his runs from wide that injected pace into the attack and stretch the pitch. These moments were extremely effective given the momentum Sakala could build in the space out wide.

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Kent meanwhile has benefited from something of a free role offensively during his spell at Ibrox. If the new manager is able to increasingly encourage the Englishman to be attracted to the space instead of the ball it will cater for more one-on-one battles.

His Premiership carry map shows that runs from wider areas are often more profitable than central locations.

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Playing with two No.10s is a relatively niche tactic – some top clubs are increasingly breaking teams down by using driving wingers, as The Rangers Review detailed earlier this month.

Van Bronckhorst will likely simplify the responsibility of his wide forwards. Focusing on attacking at pace and making the most of transitional opportunities.

During the 2016/17 campaign, his full-backs contributed with just six assists between them. Often playing more of a support role than the rampaging runs supporters are used to seeing from deep at Ibrox.

See below, Rick Karsdorp provides a passing lane infield while Berghuis retains width. There was variation in the zones either picked up and the subsequent supporting runs made.

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It's been commonplace at Rangers for central midfielders to rotate into the areas full-backs traditionally occupy, while both Borna Barisic and James Tavernier move high.

Perhaps greater variation will be implemented, with wide forwards staying high instead of moving towards the ball and full-backs remaining deeper or coming infield at points.

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Again, while the incoming manager won't want to negate his side's best assets, his previous role tells us to expect a change from the width and creativity always arriving from left and right-back, complimented in all likelihood by a more advanced central player supporting the main forward. Expect to see a gradual shift away from the 4-3-3 mid-block.

Malmo’s opening goal in the costly Champions League exit was a by-product of the shape that had served so well previously. Slavia Prague and Lyon garnered similar success. 

READ MORE: Three Rangers 'tweaks' Steven Gerrard can use to ensure tactical blueprint remains unpredictable

A review of the Swedish side's pass map from their home tie outlines the lack of central ball progression to take advantage of Rangers' shape which had previously worked like clockwork in Europe. 

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In notable wins over Ajax, a 6-2 victory in 2019 particularly, Van Bronckhorst utilised impressive game plans to limit the threats of a side who reached the Champions League semi-final that same year.

Using Robin van Persie as a focal point, defending in a 4-1-4-1 mid-block and pressing in a man-orientated manner from goal-kicks – they emphatically defeated their rivals.

Furthermore, a brief stint in China featured the use of differing formations. In all likelihood, Van Bronckhorst will have used the time since his departure from Feyenoord to learn and grow as a manager and tactician.

It seems unlikely the new boss will be wedded to the overloading mid-block which requires a mammoth workload for outside central midfielders. Look at the location of Glen Kamara’s defensive activity this Premiership campaign as an example.

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Whether it be the ability to defend in a man-orientated shape, which could prevent the defence from becoming overloaded with third-man runs. Or an improved press, which has been individual-dependent this term, change will be forthcoming in the approach without the ball.

In his four seasons at Feyenoord, the side's PPDA increased each season - from 7.42 in 2015/16 to 9.75 in 2018/19. This is not uncommon as a team become more organised and therefore has to exert less energy without the ball. 

Greater variation in formation could also bring benefits. Perhaps trialling a three at the back, or discovering a way to accommodate both James Tavernier and Nathan Patterson.

Alfredo Morelos has sparingly looked at his best this season and needs to recover some of the individualistic elements of his game to complement the evolution he has undergone as a false nine.

Again, analysis of how Van Bronckhorst used his central forwards in the Eredivisie indicates that Morelos' physicality will be utilised closer to the box. Nicolai Jørgensen played that role and scored 21 goals en route to the side's title win.

Jørgensen received 14 passes per 90 in that league campaign - 10 fewer than Morelos' current 21/22 average. Less influence in the side's build-up therefore seems feasible. 

Morelos' pass map from this season gives a clear image of how he switches play to great effect to stretch opponents and open up space in the backline for others to run beyond.

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The Colombian must rediscover his battling qualities and ability to roll defenders.

Van Bronckhorst won't want to tear up everything that has been developed these past few years but rather fine-tune areas that complement his philosophy and start afresh where necessary.

Could it be the case that the compact foundations laid these past few years provide an ideal platform to add greater attacking variation?

Hindsight could well regard a fresh tactical outlook as beneficial for the squad.