Rangers must keep Walter Smith, says Advocaat

THE most positive prognosis of recent times for the future of Rangers arrived yesterday from a man who played a meaningful part in their good times.

Dick Advocaat bristles at the suggestion he was simply a free-spending manager of the Ibrox club – "Look at the assets I left behind" he says – but will admit he starred in an altogether different movie to the one Walter Smith finds himself in now. Advocaat and Smith are the same age, yet, while the Dutchman admitted yesterday he is nearing the end of his career in the club game, he has urged the present Rangers manager to remain at Ibrox next season.

"Walter has to go on," Advocaat said. "He is Mr Rangers and what he has done is unbelievable.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It will be a big blow for Rangers if he doesn't go on. Maybe he will become the coach of the national team again as it's more relaxed, to be honest. But I think he has to go on with Rangers.

"Walter is such a big man that he can say to the people there, 'listen, the money is not there so we have to build something special' and they will accept it from him as he is a real gentleman.

"He knows everybody. With his name, players want to play for him. Still players all across Europe want to play for Rangers because they're still a big name."

Smith's future may be uncertain but that of Advocaat appears perfectly straight- forward. He will leave his post at AZ Alkmaar this summer and is almost certain to be confirmed as the national coach of Russia in the near future.

"Club football is too much for me now, and for my family," Advocaat explained. "If you're on your own it's not a problem. After six great months in Holland, where I've had a great time, I am finished. They have asked me many times to stay on, but I have said 'no'."

Rangers' off-field plight has not gone unnoticed to Advocaat, even though he insists his close friend Sir David Murray has not gone into detail with him regarding his attempts to sell the newly-crowned Scottish Premier League champions. What Advocaat does say with authority is that financial trouble at Ibrox will be resolved somehow, and positively. "It is not only Rangers," Advocaat said. "The problems in Holland are unbelievable. All the clubs have problems because they spend more than comes in. That's the same for 80 per cent of clubs there.

"When some people with some money come in and want to be successful it will happen. Everything will come back. Clubs like Rangers and Celtic will always stay at the top. At the moment we have a period that is difficult. It will change. I have no doubts about that."

Advocaat remains surprised, though, that the Old Firm have remained in their environment of Scottish football. "I think it's unbelievable that Rangers and Celtic are still playing in Scotland because I think players of that calibre have to play in England," he said. "When I was here we tried to get into the third division of England but they didn't allow it because they are afraid.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I heard some Scottish clubs were against that happening too but if it happens it means other teams like St Johnstone can win the title and play in Europe."

When Advocaat calls time on his club management career, he has re-iterated he will do so with a single regret. The man who has twice taken charge of the Dutch national team admits his decision to resign as the Rangers manager in 2002 was a premature one.

"Now, after knowing everything and looking back, that was a weak moment for me," he recalled. "I could definitely have gone on. We were still in the Uefa Cup and still in the Scottish Cup, but we were 13 points behind Celtic. Looking back, it was not a good decision to quit."