Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has admitted that it is ‘hard to explain and process’ their humbling 7-1 defeat at home against Liverpool in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
The Gers headed into the contest at Ibrox after losing all of their previous three Group A fixtures, but they made a bright start against Jurgen Klopp‘s men with Scott Arfield scoring the opening goal in the 17th minute.
However, Rangers’ celebrations were short-lived as Roberto Firmino equalised in the 24th minute with a close-range header, before the floodgates opened in the second half.
Firmino then fired Liverpool in front 10 minutes after the interval before substitute Mohammed Salah scored three goals within the space of only six minutes – recording the fastest ever Champions League hat-trick – either side of strikes from Darwin Nunez and Harvey Elliott to condemn the Gers to their heaviest home defeat in European competition.
Rangers have subsequently been eliminated from the Champions League group stage with two games remaining and without a single point on the board, and their goal difference now stands at a worrying -15 which is the worse of any team in this year’s competition.
Van Bronckhorst was pleased with how his side started the game against Liverpool, but he has criticised his players for conceding too many “easy goals” in the second half.
FT: Rangers 1-7 Liverpool
WOW. 😱#UCL pic.twitter.com/MYqF4ePo8u
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 12, 2022
Speaking to BT Sport after the match, the Dutchman said: “It was a very disappointing result. We were playing well in the first half. The second goal came out of their strength, they are so fast in transition and we got caught a couple of times. I think we created some good chances but the further the game went, the more we kept playing short.
“We had to play it more directly which would have given us the chance to score goals. Just as we were about to put three strikers on to get something out of the game, it went really quickly.
“We conceded too many easy goals and the game went so fast after that. You want the start we had today but the first set-piece went in. In the second half it was too easy. After 3-1 we tried to push but you could see we were struggling because they upped the tempo – that’s why we conceded so many goals.
“If you see the changes they can make in the end… They have quality players coming on but we knew that. We knew we had to be focused throughout the game and we didn’t. I’m not thinking about the Champions League group, just processing this defeat and that’s all I’m thinking about at the moment.”
Rangers have now conceded at least three times on four occasions since the beginning of last month, and Van Bronckhorst has questioned the mentality of his players following another disappointing defeat.
“It’s very hard to explain and to process. The first half and the last half hour was night and day. The way we played the last 25 minutes, you will lose against any team. I cannot explain at the moment.
“The emotions are still raw. We have to feel that because the performance and the result is not the way we want to represent this club. There are no excuses and we need to process that. The whole locker room was quiet because everyone feels the big loss and sometimes when emotions are high.”
The Dutchman added: “We need to accept the criticism. It’s part of my job and the players when you perform like this. We have to take it on the chin.
“It’s concerning that we have had three big defeats now this season and we need to solve it. We have to change our mentality that’s for sure. When we are not there mentally our levels drop really quick. We have to improve if we want to be successful this season.”
Van Bronckhorst has also expressed concern over the injuries to Connor Goldson and Ryan Jack, with the former withdrawn before half time and later spotted on crutches while the latter was taken off on the hour mark.
“Both [Goldson and Jack] aren’t good – they couldn’t continue,” said Van Bronckhorst. “For Connor, he tore something in his muscle, we have to wait and see exactly what the injury is. The same for Ryan, we have to assess how long it will be.”
Rangers will look to return to winning ways when they travel to Fir Park to face Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday.