STUART McCall has done much to raise morale since he took temporary charge at Ibrox but he says it will be up to the supporters to play their part as the promotion chase reaches its denouement.
Annoyed that a section of the fanbase turned on captain Lee McCulloch during the side’s 2-2 draw with Falkirk last weekend, the Rangers boss was cheered by the response of others in the crowd, who drowned out the negativity and he now wants everyone in the away end at Tynecastle tomorrow to get behind the team as they do everything they can to secure second place with a victory over Hearts and set the tone for the play-offs.
“What happened last week, for a short period of time I may add, wasn’t nice to hear,” he said.
“People know me, I was a fan as a boy at Leeds United and I remember Terry Yorath and Ray Hankin coming in for stick. As a teenager I used to get into fights because of it. I could never get my head round why people would boo. I’ve no problem with a team being booed off at half time or full time, that’s fine, people pay their money. But I think the individual thing is not on. It was sad to hear last week. But, the good thing was that within minutes of it happening most of the supporters turned it round and he was getting backing.
“We were 2-0 down and I think people thought: ‘You know what, we need to help the team’. It spun itself round and then the majority of the supporters were clapping. If it hadn’t turned itself around I don’t think that we would’ve got back in the game.”
Hearing the stick dished out to Leeds United players always jarred with the young McCall and a career spent in the game has done nothing to dilute his views. “Standing at the back of the Leeds kop. I was maybe 15 or 16 year old and Terry Yorath and Ray Hankin were getting booed. Tell me, how’s that going to help any individual when that’s the reaction to their name just being read out. Don’t get me wrong, if it’s after 17 or 18 minutes and they are having a s***e game then I’m booing but I couldn’t understand people booing their own so early on. That’s when I got into fights.
All I want is a really big performance going into the play-offsStuart McCall
“As a fan, well, as a supporter, I’m there to support my team and I understand there are frustrations but if from the first minute you start booing a player, is that going to help him or hinder him? Is it going to make him feel good and feel like he’s going to flourish? Surely that’s common sense.”
McCall needs his players to flourish in the final matches. Securing second place in the Championship would see them bypass the tricky first tie, against Queen of the South, leaving them with just two double-headers if they are to seal a return to the top flight. For that to happen they need to beat champions Hearts while Hibs fail to defeat Falkirk. Richard Foster, Stevie Smith and Marius Zaliukas are available but the Rangers boss still expects a tough afternoon.
“All I want is a really big performance going into the play-offs. If we win and Hibs win, so be it. Obviously, there is a slight advantage to finishing second with playing two less games. But, when it comes down to it, you are just going to have win football games. If we manage to win at Hearts and Hibs don’t win, there will be no great celebrations from our point of view because we won’t have achieved anything. We’ve got into the play-offs, but either way, all the hard work is in front of us.”
Robbie Neilson’s men hold the advantage with two wins in the first two head to heads. But they were unable to make it three when they met recently and McCall’s men beat them 2-1.
“That was probably one of the strongest 45 minutes this season,” said McCall. “We will need that type of performance on Saturday but if we can get a really strong performance and win and we come off and learn Hibs have won then so be it because nothing is decided on Saturday.”