Giovanni van Bronckhorst admits Rangers have yet to aspire to the level Ajax are at ahead of the Champions League clash between the bottom two teams in Group A on Tuesday night.
The Gers are bottom of the table with five straight defeats and a goal difference of -18, having lost 4-0 to the Dutch side in Amsterdam in their first group game, and they need an unlikely win 5-0 to qualify for Europe. League.
After beating Europa League finalists with some ease last season, Ajax lost both home and away to Napoli and Liverpool, who have already qualified for the knockout stages.
However, Van Bronckhorst highlighted the gap between the clubs who will play their final group game at Ibrox.
“Compete with Ajax? A team that almost made the final and for five or six consecutive years did well in Europe,” said the Dutchman on the eve of the match, confirming that the midfielder Glen Kamara was back. Rangers squad but defenders Ben Davies and Ridvan Yilmaz are out, while midfielder John Lundstram is suspended.
“We’ve been doing well in Europe for the past three years, but we’re still not at the same level as Ajax.
“We are developing and that’s how it is. That’s how the differences are in Europe at the moment.
“If you see Ajax, the players are generally of a higher level, their budget is higher.
“They bought players for £100m. They bought us a not bad defender (Calvin Bassey) last season.
“We can’t compare ourselves to Ajax but we can compete with them on the day, especially at home at Ibrox.”
Rangers’ last matches before the World Cup
- Ajax (H) – November 1, 8 p.m.
- St Johnstone (A) – November 6, 12pm – Live on Sky Sports
- Hearts (H) – November 9, 7:45 p.m.
- St Mirren (A) – November 12, 12.30pm – Live on Sky Sports
Van Bronckhorst believes even a point to complete his first Champions League campaign in 12 years would be ‘positive’ for the club.
He said: “The group is really tough. You can see Ajax only have three points.
“Last year they had a record of 100% in the Champions League (group stage). Tomorrow we can match their points if we win.
“So it shows you the level that Napoli and Liverpool have shown in this group.
“It will always be a very difficult game because Ajax are a very good team.”
The absence of Davies, Yilmaz and Lundstram is another blow for Van Bronckhorst who has a handful of players sidelined through injury.
Centre-back Davies came off at half-time in the 4-1 Premiership win over Aberdeen at Ibrox on Saturday with a groin problem while left-back Yilmaz was substituted after eight minutes with a hamstring injury.
Kamara is back after missing the last six games through injury and will be a much needed addition to the squad.
Van Bronckhorst said: “We have Kamara returning to the team. Lundstram is unavailable due to suspension.
“Yilmaz will not be ready. He will be out for several weeks.
“He has a hamstring injury. It will definitely be after the World Cup. I don’t know how long exactly, but he won’t be involved in the remaining games until the break.
“Ben Davies hasn’t trained. I hope he will be involved this weekend, but tomorrow will be too soon.”