Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Rangers v Manchester United: Weir wants vital points, not a final farewell for his boss

David Weir has urged Rangers to make their clash with Manchester United a night to remember — but not because it could be boss Walter Smith's final Champions League game at Ibrox.

Smith is set to quit the Scottish champions at the end of the season, meaning the visit of the Premier League giants will mark his last home game in the competition if the Gers fail to qualify for the last 16.

With the possibility of progression to the knockout stages still alive if Rangers can claim victory, Weir insists there are plenty of other reasons to perform, regardless of the manager's retirement plans.

“You don't need an incentive to make it a night to remember and I'm sure the manager won't be thinking like that,” said Weir.

“We, as a group of players, don't think like that. We treat every game with respect and a Champions League game here, regardless of the opposition or the circumstances, is a big game.

“I don't think you can turn the volume up in any way, shape or form. You've got to approach it the way you would any other game. If we're not doing that, there will be a problem.”

With defeat in Valencia allowing the Spaniards to leapfrog Rangers into second spot behind United, third place — and a Europa League berth — now appears the most likely outcome for Smith's men, with Turkish champions Bursaspor yet to put any points on the board.

Weir added: “If people had offered us the chance to still be in Europe after Christmas we’d have been delighted with that.

“We have given ourselves half a chance of something better than that, but it's still a long way away and it's still a big ask.

“Playing Manchester United, it doesn't come any harder or bigger than that.”

United are boosted by the return of Wayne Rooney, who is set to make his first start since an ankle problem.

Weir said: “I'm sure he will be at his best, he usually is. He's usually a handful, so I'm sure this won't be any different.”

Meanwhile, Walter Smith is praying for a rusty Rooney when the striker is unleashed on Rangers tonight.

But the Ibrox boss knows his side could find themselves up against a revitalised Rooney instead in what is a vital game for the Scottish champions.

Smith said: “Once you get rid of all the stuff that was going on in the background, they will be looking forward to getting him back playing again.

“I can only hope tomorrow that he's a little bit rusty through lack of activity in terms of games.

“From a Manchester United point of view, they will be delighted to have him back.”

As far as Smith is concerned, Rooney is not the only player to be wary of when the Group C leaders come calling, insisting United as a team will pose a collective threat.

He added: “Manchester United are one of the most experienced Champions League teams, they know how to handle the situation, and they have shown that already in this season's Champions League.

“I listened to commentators on their game the other week and they were saying they are not playing so well and yet they don't lose any games.

“They are still up there in the Premiership. The standards at the club are extremely high and we will have to match that.”

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