Former Rangers defender Nikola Katic has criticized Ibrox manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst for his approach ahead of the Croatian’s summer exit from Ibrox.
Signed in 2018 by Steven Gerrard, Nikola Katic was on loan when Gio first took charge at Ibrox, with the centre-back having spent last season with Hajduk Split in his homeland.
It comes after a devastating cruciate ligament injury ruled out the legendary 20/21 title-winning defender and was designed to get minutes into the big man’s legs.
But after returning to the club in the summer, after a Croatian cup victory and a noble 2n/a final place in the HNL.1, Katic has since been sent to Swiss champions FC Zurich.
Talk to athleticismNikola Katic has taken aim at the approach Giovanni van Bronckhorst took over the summer and says he could still do a job for Rangers now that the club continue to shy away from goals from open play and set pieces.
“They said we need to get back to maybe 80% fitness, but I was obsessed with my body fat because I wanted to get back to 100%,” Katic said.
“On the first day I was trying to prove myself to van Bronckhorst.
“It’s nothing wrong, but I felt like I didn’t have a chance because we weren’t communicating. I asked his coaches if they could explain to me their demands and what they expected from their defenders , but I didn’t think they were that interested and I never got that information.
“I played three 45 minutes in pre-season and I was happy with what I did. I had a bad pass against Sunderland but it wasn’t much.
“I expected to play against West Ham and Tottenham at Ibrox and hoped everyone would look at me again, but I was the only defender not to play.
Nikola Katic: van Bronckhorst never gave me a chance
“I was really disappointed so I went to his office and asked him to tell me what was going on as I didn’t think I deserved this after getting injured and trying to come back to help Rangers. If I played badly, that’s fine, but at least give me a chance.
“He said he likes a different type of defender. I’m not Messi but I see defenders doing typical defender things, nothing special or making the last pass.
“If someone is Virgil van Dijk that’s fair enough, but it’s hard to look at how many goals they’re conceding at the moment because I think I could have helped – especially with the kicks. of stopped feet.
“It’s Scotland so a lot of away games are physical no matter what you do and you need to have defenders to defend. I still think I could help the club but the manager had a different opinion and I respect his decision. It’s football.
“I never cry, but that day when people started calling and texting me I couldn’t stop. I flew to Edinburgh and the people saw me, they said I was a hero and I shouldn’t leave.
“It was really hard to leave because the support has been amazing over the four years. Even when I was on loan, they wanted Hajduk signed shirts. It was really important for me to be loved by the fans like that .
“I will always have a connection with Rangers. I told (sporting director) Ross Wilson on my last day that I will see him again in two years when he buys me out!
Ouch. Giovanni van Bronckhorst finds himself under pressure at Rangers and his decisions like letting go of Nikola Katic could come back to haunt him if things go wrong.
At present, Rangers are coming off two skuddings 4-0 and have looked unconvincing all season with the Dutchman already five points behind in the title race.
Meanwhile, the SFA’s latest statement to Scottish football means Rangers fans can expect to watch their scarves this weekend.