Alan Stubbs says Rangers’ preparations for today’s Scottish Cup final have been hampered by a lack of intensity and claims that could work in Hibs’ favour at Hampden.
Championship winners Rangers have had a three-week break since their final league game on 1 May.
Mark Warburton’s side did travel to Tottenham’s training ground last week for a friendly against the English Premier League club’s under-21 team but Stubbs insists that was no more than “a runaround”.
The Hibs boss, whose own team played four highly charged play-off games against Raith Rovers and Falkirk in the same period, feels the lay-off will be a cause of concern for Warburton.
“If Mark had an opportunity to address it, he certainly wouldn’t have wanted a three week gap,” said Stubbs. “I wouldn’t have wanted it. I think it’s not ideal. The schedule [between the end of the regular league season and the cup final] is more geared towards a Championship team not being in the final.
“The fact you have so many big teams in the Championship over the past two years has brought it all to the fore.
“Mark managed to get an under-21 game at Tottenham, who have a very good group of players, but it’s still not the same intensity.
“It’s a runaround for 90 minutes but, in terms of real competition, you are not too sure whether the players are flying into tackles or don’t want to get injured, or whether the Spurs players were the same. But, no matter which way you go about it, it’s not easy to try to put a plan together. Three weeks is a long time to wait.”
Today’s showpiece at the national stadium will be the sixth meeting between Rangers and Hibs this season. On the opening day of the campaign, Warburton’s fledgeling side came from behind to claim an emphatic 6-2 win at Easter Road in the first round of the Petrofac Training Cup. In the four subsequent Championship fixtures, each team won both of their games on home soil.
Stubbs, who is still pondering what system to deploy today, anticipates no surprises in Rangers’ tactical approach for what he believes could prove to be a classic final.
“The games between ourselves and Rangers in the league are sitting at two apiece,” he said. “We have played with a three at the back against them and also with a back four. We’ve managed to win a game with both systems. We have done quite a bit of work on our shape and approach. We know Mark’s philosophy is 4-3-3. There is a good chance we know what his line-up is, if everyone is fit. It’s been a very good one which has worked for most of the season.
“The most important thing is I think you are going to see two good football teams put on a show worthy of a Scottish Cup final.It has the makings of a fantastic game. It’s got goals in it, you have two teams who will look to attack. We will contribute significantly to a worthy cup final.”