Confident Rangers set on finishing with flourish

RANGERS may still be facing an uncertain future and will miss out on European football for the first time in 32 years, but manager Ally McCoist spoke of the new-found pride among his players after last week’s Old Firm win and urged them to finish their season with a flourish.

Administrators Duff and Phelps yesterday set a deadline of next Wednesday for “best and final offers” for the club, and it is hoped new owners will quickly be identified to give McCoist and his side some security for next season.

The 3-2 victory over Celtic at Ibrox denied Rangers’ arch-rivals the opportunity to celebrate clinching the title, and McCoist’s side must win again at Motherwell today to delay the celebrations at Parkhead for at least another week. If Rangers draw or lose, then Celtic can win the championship if they beat St Johnstone at home tomorrow.

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But McCoist has long accepted the inevitability of the title being relinquished. The ten points Rangers were docked for entering administration ended any hope of retaining the SPL crown, and, after today, Rangers will also be barred from playing in Europe next season as they will fail to meet Uefa licensing requirements by being in administration.

McCoist was upbeat yesterday, however, and called on his side to beat Motherwell and bolster hopes of beating Stuart McCall’s men to second spot in the SPL.

McCoist said: “It’s been a good week. The terrific result we had [against Celtic] has given every-body within the club a real boost. Training has been good.

“Stuart and his team are having a fantastic season, there is no doubt about that. Stuart has been a good friend for a number of years and will be for a long, long time and I think he deserves enormous credit for the job he is doing at Motherwell. They are where they are on merit.”

Andy Little also believes Rangers will have no problems focusing on the clash with Motherwell after spending the last few days basking in the glow of their Old Firm derby triumph.

The Northern Ireland striker claimed a goal with his first touch of the ball after coming off the bench in last weekend’s 3-2 win over Celtic at Ibrox – a victory that was a much-needed boost for the crisis-hit club.

With Celtic edging closer to wrapping up the SPL title, Little is well aware of the importance of three points at Fir Park as Rangers aim to beat Motherwell to second spot.

He said: “The Old Firm game is out of our system now. It’s something I’ll certainly always remember but we have to move on. There are a lot of big games and we now have our own battle with Motherwell. Winning tomorrow would go a long way to securing second place and that’s the most important thing.

“If we beat them, hopefully we should be able to see it out and finish second. It’s massive. We don’t expect to be fighting for second, we expect to be fighting for first. But that’s been taken out of our hands. We’ve got another battle now and we’ve got to win.”

Rangers had endured a number of disappointing results after being forced to call in the administrators on 14 February, as events off the field over-shadowed the action on it. But Little hopes the victory over Celtic will spur a decent run and finish what has been a turbulent campaign on a high.

He said: “The boys can take an awful lot of confidence from it. There were a lot of good individual performances and clearly a very good team performance. That should be a big boost for us confidence-wise, that we know we are back playing at a good standard.

“We had a couple of bad results lately but this should kick us on to finish the season well.”

Motherwell head into tomorrow’s lunchtime meeting hoping to end a ten-year wait for a win over Rangers. Little said: “That will be motivation for them. But, from our point of view, we are on a high now and we want to finish the season properly.”