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Murray pledges cash backing for Rangers revival

Rangers chairman David Murray pledges to back Walter Smith's bid to guide the club back to the top of Scottish football with hard cash.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2007 14:43 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Rangers chairman David Murray has pledged to back Walter Smith's bid to guide the club back to the top of Scottish football with hard cash.

The legacy of Paul Le Guen's seven months in charge means that Rangers' only realistic chance of silverware this season is in the UEFA Cup, and Smith will be given the chance to inject some new blood into his squad before European action resumes next month.

"Walter has got to assess what he wants but obviously there will be money available," Murray promised within hours of Smith quitting his post as manager of Scotland to return to the club he guided to seven Scottish Premier League (SPL) titles in the 1990s.

Smith's success in turning around Scotland's fortunes over the last two years has served to bolster his reputation. But the 58-year-old has always acknowledged that his success in his previous stint at Ibrox was under-written by the superior spending power of Rangers at that time.

Now, he admits, it is a case of "different circumstances, different job."

But he insisted, "If you are afraid of a challenge you should not accept it. It is a big challenge to me to get the club back to a level of success but hopefully we can still do enough to be successful."

Smith does not intend to be rushed into any radical changes to a squad which trails Celtic by 17 points in the SPL title race and has been knocked out of both domestic cups.

Instead, the 58-year-old is counting on repeating the kind of immediate pick-up in morale and confidence that he managed to engender on taking over a beleaguered Scotland squad.

"We'll have to look at them and what kind of reaction we get before we can make any decisions about what kind of surgery is required for the team," he said.

Smith has already been linked with a number of potential transfer targets, with the list headed by the highly-rated Falkirk forward Alan Gow and Hearts midfielder Paul Hartley, who flourished under Smith's management of the national team.

But he insisted his search for new talent would not be confined to Scotland.

"The emphasis will be on trying to get as good a team as we can for Rangers. We can't afford to be that choosy. We'd obviously like to have a backbone of Scottish players in the side but there is no way we will close the door on foreigners."

As well as being in sole charge of Rangers for the final seven of the nine consecutive Scottish Premier League titles they won during the most successful period in the club's 135-year history, Smith delivered three Scottish Cups and three Scottish League Cups and took Rangers to within one victory of reaching the 1993 European Cup final.

He returned to Ibrox on a three-year contract barely a week after Le Guen became the shortest-serving boss in the club's history.

Smith, who had an unsuccessful spell in charge of Everton after leaving Rangers in 1998, will be assisted by former Rangers striker Ally McCoist, who had been combining his broadcasting work with part-time duties as a coach to the Scotland squad.

Former Celtic reserves coach Kenny McDowall will serve as first-team coach.

Le Guen spent just seven months at the helm before quitting by mutual consent after losing out in a power struggle with captain Barry Ferguson and failing to build a team capable of challenging Celtic's current dominance of the Scottish game.

Murray would not be drawn into discussion of the details of Le Guen's departure, beyond saying that results had been the main reason for the Frenchman's downfall.

"Rangers Football Club rises and falls on results and the results were not good enough," said Murray.

"Paul Le Guen was a very honourable man and we thank him for his efforts and wish him well. But if you are in a hole you stop digging and that is what we have done."

First Published: Jan 12, 2007 11:57 IST