Rangers sack Van Bronckhorst after falling behind Celtic in title race

By Sports Desk November 21, 2022

Rangers have sacked manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst after falling off the pace in the Scottish Premiership title race.

Van Bronckhorst joined Rangers last November following Steven Gerrard's move to Aston Villa, leading them to a Scottish Cup triumph and a Europa League final - where they were beaten by Eintracht Frankfurt - last term.

However, Van Bronckhorst was unable to inspire consistency in the Scottish Premiership, with Rangers finishing last season four points behind Celtic and entering the World Cup break nine adrift of their Old Firm rivals.

Rangers also endured a chastening Champions League campaign this term, becoming the first Scottish team to lose all six of their group-stage games in the competition.

Van Bronckhorst's team conceded 22 goals across those matches, which included a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool and a 4-0 defeat at Ajax.

In a statement on Rangers' website on Monday, chairman Douglas Park said: "I want to thank Gio for the hard work he has put in over the last 12 months and, especially the achievements of taking the club to the Europa League final and winning the Scottish Cup last season.

"Unfortunately, recent results have not met neither our nor Gio’s expectations, and we have taken this difficult decision today. Everyone at Rangers wishes Gio every success in the future."

With the Scottish Premiership campaign on hold for the World Cup in Qatar, Rangers have over three weeks to find a replacement before they host Hibernian on December 15.

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    Liverpool favourite Steve Heighway has called time on his Reds career at the age of 75, with Jamie Carragher hailing him as "a huge influence".

    Former winger Heighway has spent 25 years working at the club's academy, across two spells, and Liverpool announced he has decided to retire.

    Heighway played for Liverpool from 1970 to 1981, winning a string of league titles and two European Cups with the Reds, while scoring 76 goals in 475 games.

    His youth coaching role proved hugely significant too, with Heighway helping to nurture talents such as Robbie Fowler, Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen and Carragher.

    He was head of youth development from 1989 to 2007 before initially retiring, but Heighway returned to the club as a full-time consultant in 2015, after being invited back by academy boss Alex Inglethorpe.

    That saw him work closely with Inglethorpe with a view to bringing through youngsters capable of challenging for places in Jurgen Klopp's first-team squad.

    Carragher, who made 737 appearances for Liverpool, was quick to thank Heighway on Thursday.

    He wrote on Twitter: "What a contribution from Steve Heighway @LFC as a player who won Leagues & European cups.

    "Then heading up an academy that produced McManaman, Fowler, Owen, Gerrard……amongst a few others!

    "A huge influence on me as a young player and still to this day. Thank you Steve."

    Inglethorpe told Liverpool's website: "Steve has decided it is the right time to retire from his coaching role at the club."

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  • Berhalter believes 'American spirit' will win over World Cup viewers as United States advance Berhalter believes 'American spirit' will win over World Cup viewers as United States advance

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    Christian Pulisic's close-range finish fired the USA to a 1-0 win over Iran at the Al Thumama Stadium on Tuesday, ensuring the Stars and Stripes leapfrogged their opponents to finish second in Group B, behind England.

    Pulisic was forced out of the contest after colliding with Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beyranvand as he scored the goal, but that blow was not enough to dampen Berhalter's spirits.

    With the 2026 tournament taking place across the USA, Mexico and Canada, much of the talk around Berhalter's team has focused on their ability to win over new fans at home, and the head coach believes his men have done just that.

    "I'm sure there was a bunch of people back home watching, and I think the US reporters have talked about defining this group, and it starts to take shape on these performances," Berhalter said.

    "You see how unified this group is, how much energy they put into every game, and along the way there was some good soccer. 

    "That's the American spirit, and I think people will appreciate that at home.

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    Having reached the round of 16 in each of their last three World Cup participations (2010, 2014 and 2022), the USA will take on the Netherlands at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday.

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    "He was taken off due to injury," Berhalter said. "He was taken to hospital as a precaution. It was a blow to his abdomen, an abdominal injury. 

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    Christian Pulisic's first-half goal was enough to condemn Iran to a loss in their final Group B game at Al Thumama Stadium on Tuesday.

    Iran's players took part in an apparent display of solidarity with anti-government protesters in the country when they chose not to sing the national anthem ahead of their first game in Qatar against England.

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    Reports had suggested the players' families had been threatened if they protested again, but in his post-match press conference, Queiroz gave a stern response.

    "The world, in the current circumstances, is full of stupidities," he said. "If you hear from an anonymous source, you convey the information and in the space of two hours, some stupidities become truth.

    "It's disinformation, it's a shame but it's the truth. We have heard several stories about threats the players received.

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    Iran toiled in the first half against USA, but pressed hard for an equaliser late on, with Mehdi Taremi insistent he had been fouled by Cameron Carter-Vickers in the box as he tried to get a shot away in stoppage time, though the contact appeared minimal and the penalty appeals were denied.

    Queiroz had no interest in making excuses though, saying: "I won't speak about [the penalty appeal] for two reasons. First, I haven't been able to see it in detail. But I think after the US has gone through to the next round, speaking about that is senseless.

    "It reduces the dignity of the game. We have already undergone other decisions in 2014 and 2018 which were more clear and obvious, and life goes on."

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    Queiroz was happy with his players' efforts, though, adding: "I am very proud and I'm honoured to be a coach of this Iran squad, the players are fantastic.

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