THE Champions League jackpot has been banked. Giovanni van Bronckhorst chose not to roll the dice as Rangers took a transfer gamble.
Now the Ibrox boss must play the hand that he has been dealt and hope that the cards fall in his favour at home and abroad in the coming weeks.
Van Bronckhorst will have had plenty of emotions and thoughts coursing through him in the days since an embarrassing, humbling Old Firm defeat to Celtic.
But there are no regrets over his decision not to splash the cash on deadline day as he elected to stick rather than twist on the eve of Rangers’ return to the big time on the continent.
Supporters have raised concerns over the strategy in the aftermath of that derby humiliation that leaves Rangers five points adrift in the Premiership title race.
But Van Bronckhorst is more than content with the call after the final hours of the transfer window elapsed without a deal being done.
“I have no regrets at all,” Van Bronckhorst said. “None. Otherwise I’d have brought in other players.
“We had a lot of players going out, a lot of players coming in. I believe in this squad and we’ll keep going.
“Of course there is talk about new players in and out and it seems [that everyone thinks] we have lots of money now in the bank which is not the case.
“We have to keep going and we have to make sure we make this squad we have now stronger in our development.
“We’ve developed over the past years, not only with me but with Steven in the years before.
“We have developed players who started at a lower level who have reached the highest levels in their careers.
“Calvin (Bassey) is a great example of that because he’s playing now for Ajax having had a tremendous development with us here.
“That’s the way we work at this club and I’ll continue working with this team, improving them in every way I can and to make sure we have the success we all want in the future.”
Van Bronckhorst made seven signings earlier this summer as he built the squad that achieved its first major milestone together by clinching a spot in Group A with victory over PSV Eindhoven.
Some of the deals have raised alarm bells, while others have looked promising. In the fullness of time, Van Bronckhorst is sure each will pay dividends.
Van Bronckhorst said: “We have some new players and they have to gel in and get used to their team-mates.
“That’s normal when you have new players coming in. We have to develop as a team again.
“We start with (Antonio) Colak then Tom Lawrence came into the squad. Unfortunately he’s injured now.
“Then there’s Malik (Tillman) so we have additions who have adapted really quick.
“But still there is loads of improvement for them, personally but also for us as a team.
“If you see the start of the season where we have the league but we also had to reach a high level because we had the Champions League.
“We had four important games so early in the season where players aren’t at the levels you want them with new players coming in.
“That’s why I’m really happy we’ve reached the group stage of the Champions League and now it’s an on-going process of getting our players better and stronger.
“I’m sure we will develop as a team in the coming weeks and months.”
There would be no better time than the present for Van Bronckhorst’s side to show what they are truly capable of as they prepare for a glamour tie at the Johan Cruijff Arena.
The Group A opener will see Rangers meet a familiar face in Calvin Bassey and the Nigerian stands out as the shining light for many to follow as Van Bronckhorst looks to develop his players individually and collectively.
Van Bronckhorst said: “The example is there, I don’t have to tell my players what example to follow because the example is there with Calvin but also with Joe Aribo. He’s gone to Southampton in the Premier League.
“I loved working with Calvin but the biggest impact on Calvin’s career is Calvin himself.
“Because he had that motivation to get better and to become stronger everyday and it was there for everyone to see.
“Of course I’m here to guide him and help him but the most credit you need to give Calvin is Calvin himself.
“That’s a good example we have for all the players we have in this team.
“It shows players that we can give them a podium to improve. That’s where I want to put in all my energy.”
The Ajax showdown gives Rangers the perfect chance to put their Old Firm experience behind them as they bid to get back on track at the first attempt.
It will take time for fans to forgive and forget. It is all about the future for Van Bronckhorst and his players now.
“Of course we had meetings after we had training sessions,” Van Bronckhorst said. “You know, if you have a heavy defeat like we did on Saturday it must feel really bad.
“You have to feel the emotions of a defeat to bounce back even harder. That’s what we’ve done.
“On Sunday we had our first meeting after Celtic but also looking forward to Ajax.
“You have to keep going. As a player I played for some big teams in Europe but also suffered some really big defeats.
“If you want to reach a higher level, if you want to keep developing you have to learn from your mistakes and your defeats.
“You need to keep going and that’s what we’re going to do.”