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Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Advocaat: end of an era
Dick Advocaat (left) with  coach Jan Wouters
Advocaat rebuilt Rangers with immediate success
BBC Sport Online looks at the legacy of former Rangers boss Dick Advocaat who has quit as director of football at Ibrox.

Advocaat joined Rangers in the summer of 1998 having agreed in February that year to succeed Walter Smith as manager.

The Dutchman arrived with a fine pedigree having taken Holland to the 1994 World Cup quarter finals in the United States.

He also enjoyed success at PSV Eindhoven guiding them to a championship and a Dutch cup win.

Advocaat, nicknamed 'The Little General' due to his uncompromising style, once dispensed of Ruud Gullit after a half-time row in one of his first matches in charge of the Dutch national side.

He inherited an ageing, ailing squad from Smith which had fallen into a state of dissarray at the end of season 1997/98 after Celtic halted their run of nine Scottish championships in a row.

Much to his credit Advocaat rebuilt the Rangers side almost from scratch bringing in players such as Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Arthur Numan, Stefan Klos, Claudio Reyna and Peter Lovenkrands.

Walter Smith (left) with Dick Advocaat
Advocaat inherited an ailing squad from Smith
Indeed, during his reign he would proceed to spend more money at one club in a concentrated spell than any other manager in British football history.

But no-one complained too much about the cost when the demanding Dutch coach immediately won the hearts of the Ibrox faithful by landing the domestic treble in his first season.

Rangers clinched the title with a 3-0 win over Celtic at Parkhead.

European progress

Advocaat also appeared, initially at least, to be realising chairman David Murray's ambitions of making progress in Europe.

In his first season Advocaat took the scalp of Bayer Leverkusen in the Uefa cup.

Then the following year a Parma side including Hernan Crespo, Juan Sebastian Veron and Lilliam Thuram were beaten 2-1 on aggregate to claim a place in the lucrative Champions League group stages in August 1999.

But Bayern Munich narrowly edged Rangers out in Germany for a place in the second phase after the Ibrox side had recorded two wins over PSV Eindhoven.

However, the disappointing exit from Europe's premier tournament didn't prevent Advocaat from taking a rampant Rangers side to a second consecutive league title by a massive 21 points from bitter rivals Celtic.

He completed the double after a resounding 4-0 Scottish Cup triumph over Aberdeen.

Thousands of Rangers fans turned up at Hampden wearing orange tops in homage to the contribution made by Advocaat and his Dutch contingent.

Dick Advocaat
Advocaat struggled to compete with O'Neill's Celtic
It seemed that 'The Little General' and Rangers would continue their domestic pre-eminence for many more years.

But just as Napoleon had his day, so did the man who bore an uncanny resemblance to him.

Resurgent Celtic

Advocaat found it difficult to compete with a resurgent Celtic in season 2000/2001 under Martin O'Neil's shrewd leadership and appeared to be losing control at the Ibrox helm.

He spent 28.4m that season on new players - including 12m on Tore Andre Flo in November 2000 - but Rangers got off to a bad start in the league and were always playing catch-up to O'Neil's Celtic.

In the first Old Firm encounter the Ibrox side suffered a humiliating 6-2 defeat and the writing was on the wall for Advocaat.

To make matters worse Rangers lost out to German opposition once more when Kaiserslautern eliminated them from the Uefa cup after they again finished third in their Champions League group.

Celtic made a clean sweep of the domestic silverware to leave Advocaat's Rangers trophyless.

In his final season in charge rumours of dressing-room cliques and favouritism to Dutch signings such as Ronald de Boer, Bert Konterman and Fernando Ricksen, did much to undermine the fans' faith in the Dutchman.

Then Rangers failed to qualify for the Champions League group stages after defeat at the hands of Turkish side Fenerbahce.

Dual role

And despite reaching the last 16 of the Uefa cup with victory over Paris St Germain, in December 2001 Advocaat moved 'upstairs' at Ibrox as director of football, with Alex McLeish coming in under his wing as the new boss.

Ronald de Boer (right) in action for Rangers
Rumours of favouritism blighted his tenure
In January 2001, in a controversial arrangement between Murray and the Dutch football association KNVB, he was re-appointed as Dutch national coach but continued in his role at Ibrox.

He now assumes full-time control of Holland as they look to qualify for Euro 2004 after missing out on the World Cup this summer.

Twice voted Manager of the Year in Scotland during his indomitable first two seasons, Advocaat will be remembered by the Rangers fans for his achievements in picking up the pieces after Smith's departure and putting the team back on the European map.

But the Dutchman's lasting legacy will perhaps be the pivotal role he played in building Murray Park, the multi-million pound training complex near Milngavie.

He pushed David Muray to forge ahead with the training facility which will benefit Rangers and, with it's youth academy, Scottish football, for years to come.

See also:

25 Jan 02 | Scotland
25 Jan 02 | Rangers
16 Jan 02 | Scotland
14 Jan 02 | Rangers
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