Rangers ready to add to Sporting woes

24 February 2011 08:30

Walter Smith believes there is one major difference between Rangers and Sporting Lisbon ahead of Thursday night's Europa League tie - knowing what the future holds for their respective managers.

Smith is set to quit the Scottish champions at the end of the season and the club have revealed he will be replaced at the helm by his assistant Ally McCoist in the summer. In contrast, there appears to be plenty of doubt over the position of Sporting coach Paulo Sergio, with the Portuguese press widely reporting he will be sacked if his team crash out of the competition, while club bosses have given him a vote of confidence.

Smith said: "The clubs have similar circumstances and, as coaches, we have to try to handle the circumstances as best we possibly can. I'm sure that's happening at Sporting at the moment. The one difference between myself and my colleague at Sporting is that I am leaving at the end of the season and he doesn't know unfortunately."

Both clubs head into the game on the back of derby defeats, Sporting losing to Benfica on Monday and Rangers suffering a crushing 3-0 loss at Celtic on Sunday.

Smith added: "The clubs are in slightly different circumstances. Although we are behind in the championship by a number of points at the moment, we have two games in hand and if we win those it will put us back up in a more challenging position.

"We also have a cup final to play in a couple of weeks time and I think we are in slightly different circumstances than Sporting are themselves, maybe not having their best season.

"I said before the previous game that I thought the Europa League would offer them an opportunity to gain some credibility in their season and that's what makes them dangerous opponents."

A 1-1 draw in Glasgow means Rangers must score in Lisbon but Smith admits the loss of players - Jamie Ness and Steven Naismith are injured and striker Nikica Jelavic is ineligible - will have the biggest impact on his approach to the second leg.

He said: "Our system will be dictated by the players that we have available. We have lost some players in midfield, especially through injury.

"We also know losing the late goal in the manner in which we did at Ibrox was something we were trying to avoid. We know we will have to try, at some stage of the game, to win the match."

Source: PA