A Rangers win against Manchester United in the Champions League clash looks a step too far

12 September 2010 07:00
Two questions hit the visitor to New Douglas Park on the southern outskirts of Glasgow on Saturday. The first was in the form of a sizeable advert on the main stand which asked: 'Do You Think You Have A Problem With Cocaine?' Do you think?

The second was slightly less alarming. For Rangers, what relevance would this dip in the paddling pool that, depressingly, Scottish football has become have for their plunge into the deep end of the Champions League at Manchester United  on Tuesday night?

There were 5,356 at Hamilton Academical for this 2-1 Rangers win - some 70,000 short of the gate at Old Trafford - so in terms of occasion it would require a mind-altering substance to say anything other than 'dubious'.

Match-winner: Kenny Miller (left) nicks the points for Rangers at Hamilton

Then there was the opposition. Hamilton's previous home game was a 4-0 defeat by Hearts. At United last week's big news surrounded Wayne Rooney; at Hamilton it was defender Jim Goodwin's move from Huddersfield Town's reserves.

Goodwin, a 28-year-old former Celtic trainee, did well in his own personal Old Firm battle - as did the lad up front for the Accies, a boy called Nigel. Nigel's surname is Hasselbaink, he is the nephew of Jimmy Floyd.

Much to ponder: Rangers manager Walter Smith

Nigel was born in November 1990, by which time David Weir hadcelebrated his 20th birthday. Hasselbaink, who is no Rooney, gave Weirthe odd slippery moment and Rangers keeper Allan McGregor made twotelling saves.

When the visitors took a sixth-minute lead through Croatia striker Nikica Jelavic (ineligible for the United game) after impressive work by Kyle Lafferty, it had seemed Weir would be able to rest his 40-year-old legs.

But then his partner Madjid Bougherra scored an own goal early in the second half and Rangers' concern was that all of them were resting.

Not until the 90th minute did substitute Kenny Miller strike the winner, at one of the empty ends of the ground. The Rangers bench celebrated as if Miller had scored at Old Trafford. But then it had been the same for the Scotland team against Liechtenstein last Tuesday.

The Scottish game is in a downward spiral. For the first time, this season's SPL winners will not automatically qualify for the Champions League group stage.Scotland needs Rangers to prosper. 'We know the situation our football is in,' said manager Walter Smith.

As for the relevance of facing Hamilton before United, Smith said: 'One of our problems is having to change our game so much. In Scotland we have to go and win every game, whereas in the Champions League, especially away from home, we have to go trying not to lose.'

Different prospect: Rangers celebrate their win. but United will be much tougher

You can get 18-1 on a Rangers win, but don't bet on it. The 4-1-4-1 formation that took them to the UEFA Cup final two years ago, Smith joked, 'might need to be reined in'.

'Can you play 4-6-0?' Smith was asked. 'I might look at 6-4-0,' he replied.

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Source: Daily_Mail