FRASER Aird believes Celtic captain Scott Brown was entitled to deliver his damning assessment of Rangers’ contribution to last Sunday’s League Cup semi-final at Hampden.
But, despite the gulf in quality between the teams which was exposed as Celtic cruised to their 2-0 win, Rangers winger Aird insists he would welcome another Old Firm showdown in the Scottish Cup this season.
That remains a possibility if the champions win their fifth round tie at Dundee today and Rangers can overcome fellow Championship side Raith Rovers at Ibrox tomorrow.
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Aird’s first taste of Old Firm action proved a dispiriting experience as the 20-year-old Canadian was substituted at half-time. With Rangers failing to record a single effort on target all afternoon, Brown then made his scornful post-match comments claiming Celtic keeper Craig Gordon only came out for a couple of crosses to alleviate his boredom.
“If he is saying that, then he is pretty much saying that we were s***e on the day,” said Aird. “But Scott Brown can say what he wants about us because that’s his opinion.
“I’d definitely like another crack at Celtic in the Scottish Cup. I’m a Rangers fan, so I would always want to play Celtic. It would definitely be a chance to redeem ourselves. We didn’t give ourselves the best chance last Sunday because we had quite a bad first half.
“I was obviously very disappointed personally. No player likes coming off at half-time. But in a big game like that, if the coach is looking to make a substitution, then someone who maybe doesn’t have the same experience as the other boys is the easiest option to take. But I was as disappointed as anyone else would be.
“My family were over from Canada and we just went back to my place after the game and watched the Super Bowl. But I fell asleep at half-time. I’ve watched the semi-final back a couple of times since.
“You have to look back on it and see if you can learn from your mistakes. I know what I had done wrong.
“We didn’t really get a touch of the ball in the first half. It is not like us. We are used to having a lot more ball in all of the other games that we play in.
“The boys gave it all we could and, in the first half, we simply weren’t good enough. We gave ourselves too high a hill to climb in the second half. I don’t think any of the boys would have been happy with a 2-0 defeat, especially against our Old Firm rivals. I certainly wasn’t.
“I am a Rangers fan myself, so it felt even worse being involved in it and getting beat. We know we can’t give up goals as easy as we did. We can’t give up chances to a team with that standard because you know that they are going to take them. We can’t give them a two-goal lead and expect to drag them back.
“They beat us 2-0 so you could say they were the better team on the day and that’s where we want to be, we want to be up there competing with them, trying to beat them. But they are not in our league this year and we don’t know when the next game is going to be.
“We have to stop thinking about the Celtic game, it’s fish and chip paper now, and move on and put a team together that can go and beat Raith Rovers on Sunday to get into a quarter-final.” Three of Rangers’ five loan signings from Newcastle United – defender Remie Streete, midfielder Gael Bigirimana and winger Haris Vuckic – are poised to make their debuts against Raith under orders issued by chief executive Derek Llambias to caretaker manager Kenny McDowall.
Aird believes the newcomers face something of a culture shock as they are confronted by the intense demands of playing for Rangers.
“Hopefully they can settle in with the team and get used to playing for Rangers quickly because it is a hard job for anyone who doesn’t know what the club is about,” he said.
“The pressure is on to win every game here, the standards set are unlike at other clubs. If you lose a game it’s like a death in the family or something, so the new boys have to get used to that.
“The boys who have trained with us look good and are happy to be here. Coming from a team like Newcastle, they are looking to get some game time because they haven’t played as much football as they would have liked.
“I wouldn’t say the squad needed a lift but having been at Newcastle, these boys are decent players. Competition for places is always good.”