Monday, January 24, 2022

No time for sulking, McCulloch tells Rangers´ Euro flops

SoccerNews in Scottish Premier League 8 Aug 2008


Lee McCulloch has warned Rangers' Euro flops that they will have to win the Scottish Premier League to erase the bitter memories of their Champions League humiliation.

Walter Smith's side are still reeling from one of the worst results in their history after the Glasgow club were dumped out of Europe by Lithuanian minnows FBK Kaunas in the second qualifying round on Tuesday.

Just three months after reaching the UEFA Cup final, Rangers are facing an entire season without European football, as well as blowing any chance of earning the 10 million pounds (12.6 million euros) windfall given to teams who reach the Champions League group stages.

But they have no time to lick their wounds as the new domestic campaign gets underway with a trip to Falkirk on Saturday.

McCulloch knows Rangers have only themselves to blame and the Scotland midfielder concedes the best way to make amends is to end Celtic's dominance of the Premier League.

“The only positive is that the season hasn't started yet,” McCulloch said. “We said from the start that we wanted the league and we have a bit of pressure on us now to win it.

“Celtic have a bit of momentum and there are other teams who will be much stronger but it all starts on Saturday.

“Things will come together. There are a lot of Scottish boys here and they know what it's all about. We will need to get it together and that will start on Saturday.”

Rangers have lost just one of their last 19 meetings with Falkirk, so a clash with John Hughes's side would usually be seen as an easy fixture.

But McCulloch admits the need to avoid another embarrassing defeat so soon after the Kaunas catastrophe will put Rangers under extra pressure.

“It was always going to be a pressure game, first game of the season away to home to a good team, and now there is a wee bit more pressure. But we will be up for it,” McCulloch said.

“We have no European football now so everyone has to focus on the league and that starts on Saturday.

“Come Saturday, it's going to take men to go out and take the ball and play but that's what we are going to have to do.

“We will have to regroup for the next couple of days and have a right shot at it on Saturday.”

Rangers' woes have taken the spotlight off defending champions Celtic, who open their campaign against St Mirren on Sunday.

Bhoys boss Gordon Strachan and his directors have taken flak from Celtic fans angry at the club's lack of new signings during the close season.

Even last season's dramatic title victory hasn't completely convinced many in Glasgow that Strachan is the right man for the job and a swoop for Barcelona midfielder Marc Crosas is unlikely to appease the critics for long.

Another manager under pressure to make a good start is Hearts' new boss Csaba Laszlo.

Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov has rarely given managers long to make their mark at Tynecastle, so Laszlo, the former Uganda coach, will hope his first signing, Ugandan winger David Obua, helps revive the Edinburgh club's fortunes quickly.


Saturday (all 1400GMT unless stated)

Aberdeen v Inverness CT

Falkirk v Rangers (1130GMT)

Hearts v Motherwell

Kilmarnock v Hibernian


Celtic v St Mirren (1130GMT)


Hamilton v Dundee Utd (1845GMT)


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