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Monday, 14 July 2008

Teething troubles for Rangers ahead of European return

Just a matter of weeks after their epic UEFA Cup run ended in defeat at the hands of Zenit St Petersburg, Rangers are back in European action at the end of July with a Champions League qualifier against either Kaunas of Lithuania or Santa Coloma, the champions of Andorra.

Walter Smith moved quickly after the double blow of defeat in Manchester and Celtic's SPL title win to beef up his side's attacking options, signing Kenny Miller from Derby County, Kyle Lafferty from Burnley and former Hearts striker Andrius Velicka.

The transfer trail has since gone cold however with Rangers' status in Scotland and on the European stage counting for little it seems against the backdrop of an increasingly wealthy Premier League and Championship in England.

Fulham's £4m valuation of midfielder Steven Davis has halted progress on a deal for the Northern Ireland man while Watford's Danny Shittu talked himself out a move to Ibrox this week with some hefty wage demands.

That leaves Smith short of bodies in midfield and at the back, a situation worsened by the pre-season injury blow suffered by skipper Barry Ferguson.

And although his options have increased in attack, the return of Miller to his former club (via Celtic) has caused problems, with reports of a negative reaction from some fans during the pre-season tour of Germany.

Star men such as Allan McGregor and Carlos Cuellar remain though, with one of the financial upshots of last season's heroics being that Rangers have not had to fend off too much interest in their key men.

McGregor and Cuellar will again be important figures while David Weir will again be asked to defy his age at the heart of the defence.

Early progress in the Champions League shouldn't be too much of a mission but Smith knows his side need a fast start in the SPL to blow away the demons of the final few weeks of last season.

Increasing the size and quality of his squad is a must if that aim is to be squared with matching Celtic's achievements in reaching the last 16 of the European Cup.

COMMENTS

Mick

Kenny Miller's first club was not Rangers. It was Hibs. Shittu only asked for £15k pw -surely not excessive in these days for an international player?
Looks like 4 in a row to me. Hail, hail

Coz

2 Points:
Davy Weir did well last season but the legs were tiring in the 2nd half. It was only Cuallar who saved us, and him on several occasions. He cannot be relied on this season, except as occasional cover.

Any real Rangers fan would not boo a Rangers player. Despite the claims in the Scottish media, Rangers fans don't want Miller because we don't believe he is good enough. Its nothing to do with his time at Sellick. As a true fan though I will give him time to settle & hopefully prove the doubters wrong. Still, you will not find me boooing him, whatever happens.

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