“Hectic” was the word used by Giovanni van Bronckhorst to describe his first six months in charge of Rangers following success in the Scottish Cup final.

The Dutchman had led the club to the brink of history in the Europa League final in Seville, while he ended a 12-year barren run in the Scottish Cup with a 2-0 victory over Hearts in the final.

Scottish Premiership success proved elusive for van Bronckhorst, however, as he oversaw a disappointing 12-point swing to rivals Celtic after a post-winter break collapse.

The Rangers Review analyses the lessons the Dutchman will have learned during his spell at Ibrox.

Relying on Morelos is a double-edged sword

Alfredo Morelos accounted for 19% of Rangers’ total xG last season, with no player in the Scottish Premiership coming close to the Colombian’s contribution to their team’s goalscoring threat.

After enduring a miserable time towards the end of Steven Gerrard’s tenure, van Bronckhorst restored the Colombian to his previous dominant role as a central striker, asking him to occupy the penalty box with greater regularity.

Morelos enjoyed one of the most fruitful spells in front of goal after the Dutchman’s arrival, scoring 12 times between late November and mid-March.

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However, his season-ending injury during the March international break underlined the risks of placing all of your eggs in the Morelos basket.

Gerrard had reduced his responsibilities during the title-winning season of 2020/21 as, amid fitness and disciplinary issues, Rangers suffered badly after the winter break in 2019/20 when Morelos’ form took a nosedive.

Due to the force his personality on the pitch, the rest of the team invariably bend to his will, hence his enormous single contribution to Rangers’ underlying goalscoring numbers.

van Bronckhorst rolled the dice with the Colombian upon his arrival and, immediately after Morelos was reported to have sustained an injury on international duty, Rangers fell to a crucial 2-1 defeat to Celtic in the league.

Although the two may not directly correlate, it is hard to deny that Morelos dictates to Rangers more than the other way round under van Bronckhorst.

Goalkeeping competency is worth its weight in titles 

Rangers were brewing a fatal defensive potion throughout last season.

The Invincible season of 2020/21 had been built upon formidable defensive foundations, supplemented by an impressive shot-stopping campaign from Allan McGregor between the posts.

Those factors trended in the opposite direction during Rangers’ title defence, with a previously solid back line proving increasingly porous while McGregor conceded shots he ought to have done more to prevent.

Rangers lost crucial goals at crucial periods in crucial games, with the speed in which their 1-0 lead over Celtic in the crucial Old Firm clash at Ibrox in April unravelled leaving many fans pointing the finger of blame at McGregor.

The 40-year-old’s unwillingness to command his penalty box spread unease through the Rangers defence, with the 1-1 draw with Dundee United at Tannadice – where Rangers conceded from a set-piece planted on top of McGregor - proving particularly damaging in the title race.

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Individual errors littered the 3-3 draw with Ross County in January and 2-2 draw with Motherwell the next month. It seemed previously unthinkable that this Rangers defence would cough up five goals to those opponents, yet they were undermined by disappointing goalkeeping errors.

It is hardly outlandish to suggest that Rangers’ title hopes next season rest on which direction van Bronckhorst goes in the goalkeeping department.

Individual guile required to reclaim domestic superiority

van Bronckhorst’s summer recruitment could be a telling indicator about Rangers’ strength heading into next season’s domestic campaign.

The Dutchman made a huge leap in Europe using a more direct, physically-orientated approach, although it has been predicated on the opposition offering up just as much risk in their approach.

The landscape is vastly different in domestic outings for Rangers, and they will be required to show more guile to maintain consistency on Scottish shores.

The Gers are guaranteed Europa League group stage football as a minimum next season and switching between a European and Scottish Premiership environment every three days will be challenging if the domestic game model is not refined.

Rangers need more consistent patterns of play through the middle and final third to sustain a title challenge, with Celtic possessing an opposite problem to that of Rangers. Ange Postecoglou’s style of play looks perfectly conducive to domestic success, yet early indications are that his dogmatic approach could place a ceiling on his side’s European ambitions.

Narrow – and unconvincing - 1-0 wins over Aberdeen and Dundee United at Ibrox showed the ugly side to van Bronckhorst’s domestic blueprint last season.

Although the last few weeks of the campaign offered encouragement, with Rangers winning seven out of their last eight games domestically, it’s difficult to read too much into a Scottish Premiership campaign which was grinding to a halt.