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Rangers hungry for glory, says Smith

By Lisa Gray

Rangers manager Walter Smith admits he was too harsh on his players after their Scottish Cup draw against Dundee United.

Smith criticised his side's “slackness” after they let slip a two-goal lead on Sunday to consign themselves to a quarter-final replay at Tannadice.

With a 13-point lead over Celtic in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, the Rangers manager feared complacency could creep into their game amid talk of the treble.

But he has no concerns over his players' attitude ahead of the Co-operative Insurance Cup final against St Mirren tomorrow.

Since their defeat in last year's Old Firm final, Rangers have only lost once to a Scottish team, against Aberdeen in November, and Smith feels his post-match comments were unfair.

Smith said: “It's very difficult, after the games sometimes feelings run a little bit high.

“In the end, how can I complain? The level of desire my players have shown this season has been fantastic.

“To lose one domestic game in a year is a tremendous achievement, whether it's spread over two parts of a season or otherwise.

“You can't question their attitude. I was a bit frustrated we didn't see the game out and allied to the fact that, since we beat Celtic, everyone's perception of what's going to happen for the rest of the season is made up, and I don't think that's a realistic one.

“I think there is a lot of football to be played in the league and the cups. I just made sure all our boys were aware of that. They are, because they are experienced enough and they know how to handle it. It was maybe just a little bit of frustration on my own part that we never managed to see out the game.”

Rangers were out of all the cups when Smith took charge in January 2007 but this is their sixth final since then, a record that includes a UEFA Cup decider.

“I've always had a team with good attitude,” he added. “I always drum into them that the expectation level of this club is that you are competing for domestic trophies as much as anything else.

“When I came back, and obviously we couldn't compete in cup competitions for the first six months we were here, but after that if somebody had said we would play in the following five cup finals, I don't think I would have thought that would be the case. It's very difficult to achieve but credit to everybody that has played over the three years.

“That's why I was saying that I was a wee bit critical after the Dundee United game.

“When you look back on it, I was harsh and had no great foundation for that criticism because they have had a terrific attitude and that's the thing that runs through our team overall.”

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