Smith salutes new boy Diouf

03 February 2011 06:31

Rangers manager Walter Smith praised El-Hadji Diouf for the way he handled his debut in Wednesday's 1-0 win over Hearts after claiming serial killers get better press than his new signing.

Diouf signed on loan from Blackburn for the Scottish champions on transfer deadline day and was named on the bench for the Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash, along with fellow new recruits David Healy and Kyle Bartley. He was thrown into the action earlier than anticipated when Lee McCulloch limped out of the match after 20 minutes.

Smith said: "He needs time because he has not played for a few weeks now. He was pitched in and we saw that he wants to take part in the game and was keen to be involved with everything. I'm pleased by the way he played."

Ian Black, Ryan Stevenson and Marius Zaliukas were all booked for challenges on Diouf - who infamously spat on a fan at Celtic Park in 2003 - as Smith's controversial new capture was handed a tough introduction to Scottish football.

"He handled it well overall," Smith added. "That's always going to be the case and he will have to do that and continue to handle that aspect of the game. I thought he did that very well.

"Overall I was pleased with the way he played considering serial killers get better publicity than he has over the last few days. It was never going to be easy for him after all that so I was pleased he handled it."

Black - who was already unpopular with Rangers fans for the challenge which sidelined Nikica Jelavic for several months - was fortunate to escape with a caution for his reckless challenge on Diouf.

"It was the same as the one that put Jelavic out for three months," said Smith.

Asked if he was surprised it was only a yellow card, the Rangers boss added: "It's not really an unusual one. He got a yellow card for a similar challenge on Jelavic so that seems to be what happens. I've got no problem with that."

Kyle Lafferty grabbed the only goal of the game as Rangers moved to within five points of Celtic, with two games in hand.

Source: PA