ANDREI KANCHELSKIS spent four years at Rangers, won five trophies and wrote his name into the history books. The Russian was one of a host of multi-million pound signings made by Dick Advocaat and he would delight the Ibrox crowd with his dazzling wing play and natural ability. There were as many highs as there were lows, though.

In part one of a serialisation of his autobiography, ‘Russian Winters’, Kanchelskis details his stormy relationship with Advocaat, explains why Rangers failed in Europe and reveals all about an end of season trip to Marbella.

Read more: Andrei Kanchelskis: Rangers spent big but Dick Advocaat failed to deliver in Europe

RANGERS won five trophies in my first two years at Ibrox. Judged by that, Dick Advocaat, who people nicknamed ‘The Little General’ because of his size, seems a very good manager.

However, I didn’t enjoy playing under him and found him a very arrogant man who smiled very little. He was not in the same class as Alex Ferguson, Claudio Ranieri or Valery Lobanovsky, although he probably imagined he was.

Advocaat treated his players as if they were at a public school or a military academy. When we finished training we would go to Ibrox for lunch, which would be served at exactly two o’clock. Not five past, not five to, but at 2pm precisely. Latecomers were fined.

You would only be allowed to start eating when Advocaat came into the room and wished everyone ‘bon appétit’ or whatever. You could not leave the dining room to go home until everyone had finished.

I hadn’t had to obey those kinds of instructions since I was in the army and when I signed for Rangers I was approaching thirty years of age.

I thought his favouritism towards the Dutch players at Ibrox was blatant and it scarred my attitude towards him. I trained hard but, whether rightly or wrongly, I thought that when he picked me for some games Advocaat wanted me to fail.

Tactically, he was nowhere near as impressive as Ferguson. When I arrived at Ibrox, Rangers were as dominant in the Scottish Premier League as Manchester United had been in the Premier League when I’d left Old Trafford.

Read more: Andrei Kanchelskis: Rangers squad celebrated the title with McDonald's and beer in Marbella

However, Ferguson’s tactics were nearly always aggressive. He would always back Manchester United to outscore the opposition.

Advocaat was generally far more cautious. When Rangers attacked, the instructions were generally to leave five in defence or well behind the ball.

What gave Advocaat the edge over Celtic were the huge financial resources that David Murray made available to him. He paid a Scottish record transfer fee for me. He spent only slightly less – £4.5m – to bring Arthur Numan from PSV Eindhoven.

He bought Ronald de Boer from Barcelona. He paid £5m to Feyenoord for Giovanni van Bronckhorst. Another £3.75m to AZ Alkmaar brought Fernando Ricksen to Ibrox. For what was a moderate league, that was a lot of money.

Their goalkeeper, the German Stefan Klos, who had won the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund, had a salary of £4.5m, which made him one of the highest-paid players in world football.

You cannot spend £80m with the kind of revenue streams that Rangers had at the turn of the century. The rot that led to the downfall of Glasgow Rangers began here.

There were some good games but, given how much Murray had invested in the squad, there was not much of a return. The money that Advocaat spent was directly responsible for the club’s bankruptcy.

Read more: Andrei Kanchelskis: Rangers spent big but Dick Advocaat failed to deliver in Europe

Advocaat behaved like a man who had just come across a windfall and went shopping buying on impulse rather than thinking about what he needed. Players would be bought and then Advocaat would think about how they might be fitted into his team, when it should have been the other way round.

There was a Dutch clique at Rangers who hung out together. I was friends with Stefan Klos and Billy Dodds. The one Dutchman I really got on with was Arthur Numan, but the rest kept their own company.

Cliques at any club destroy an atmosphere and damage potential. Like Rangers, Van Gaal’s Barcelona won domestic trophies but did not perform in the Champions League.

It was that kind of pro-Dutch atmosphere that brought my career at Ibrox to an end.

In November 2000 I got into a fight on the training pitch with Fernando Ricksen. Advocaat was Dutch, Ricksen was Dutch, and I was the one who was blamed for starting it. I hadn’t: Ricksen had simply scythed me down and I had reacted, but that didn’t seem to matter.

Usually, whenever two players square up to each other on the training ground, the manager or coach will send them both off.

Now, the only person Advocaat told to go to the changing rooms was me. He had shown everyone on the pitch whose side he was on.

Advocaat called me into his office and told me that I would be playing with the reserves at Aberdeen. My attitude about playing with the reserves was the same at Rangers as it had been at Manchester United. ‘I signed a contract to play in the first team not the

reserves,’ I told him.

Advocaat told me he needed numbers to make up the reserve team.

‘What size boots do you take?’ I asked him.


‘Well in that case go and get a pair of size forty-two boots and

make up the numbers yourself.’

Outside Ibrox, the coach had arrived to take the reserves to Aberdeen and by the bus Advocaat was waiting just to make sure I was on it. I wasn’t anywhere near Ibrox. I was at home, having dinner.

Read more: Andrei Kanchelskis: Rangers squad celebrated the title with McDonald's and beer in Marbella

An hour later a letter arrived, hand-delivered, informing me I had been fined a month’s wages.

It was then that Advocaat’s attitude to me changed. From that moment on, he was looking for a way to get me out of Glasgow Rangers.

During my time at Ibrox, Rangers accumulated the best footballers in Scotland but what they never really had was a team, and they suffered for that when Martin O’Neill took over at Celtic.

O’Neill built a team and in his first season, Celtic won the treble and then retained the league title in 2002. By then, Advocaat was no longer manager.

He had resigned in December 2001, when Rangers were twelve points behind Celtic. He did not, however, leave the club.

They created a position for him of ‘general manager’ and they kept paying him until Advocaat found a new job as manager of the Dutch national team. David Murray had proved himself once more to be a very generous employer.

Andrei Kanchelskis’ autobiography ‘Russian Winters’ is published by deCoubertin Books and costs £20. Click here to purchase.