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No old pals act from me, insists Rangers boss McCall

By Andy Newport

Stuart McCall has an emotional dilemma on his hands as he faces the prospect of relegating a club he still holds dear to his heart for the first time in 30 years.

However, the Rangers manager insists he will not even contemplate what demotion will mean to his old side unless his current team actually make that a reality.

McCall - who comes up against his former team for the first time since quitting Well last November - knows football can be a ruthless business but he's never lost the hunger to win.

"I'm quite a loyal person and I had almost four brilliant years at Motherwell," said McCall.

"But my thoughts on that and what comes next for them will only come after Sunday's match.

"Football can be ruthless, but this is just the way it has turned out.

"I'm fully focused on doing the job I came here to do. Rangers are my club and we want to get promoted."

Gers have seen off the challenge of second-tier rivals Queen of the South and Hibernian to set up this two-legged shoot-out with the Premiership's second-bottom side, kicking off at Ibrox tonight (7.45pm) with the climax on Sunday at Fir Park.

"Since I've had a pair of football boots at four-years-old, I've always wanted to win," the 50-year-old McCall said.

"My kids will tell you that I've left them in tears at times after beating them at Monopoly.

"It's how I am. And just like Keith Lasley, Stevie Hammell and the rest will be wanting to win for Motherwell, it's in me to do the same."

McCall led Motherwell to third place in his first year in charge at Fir Park before making the most of Rangers' absence to claim back-to-back runners-up slots.

But he walked away earlier this season after mustering just two wins from his side's first 12 games.

Now he admits if Well are relegated, he will stand jointly responsible.

"I've got to take a share of the blame for what has happened," he said.

"I never once envisioned Motherwell would be anywhere near the bottom.

"The reason I left was that, after finishing best of the rest three years running, we had a poor start after getting a lot of injuries and I could only see us fighting for that sixth spot.

"I felt that would be a challenge that I just didn't have in me any more.

"I didn't have the energy or drive any more. So I thought it would be better to let someone come in and refresh the place."

McCall is confident his boys can do the business on the pitch but he feels sorry for the supporters who won't come to the party.

The Ibrox chief has accused Motherwell of putting another dent in Scottish football's image after slashing Rangers' ticket allocation for the play-off final second-leg.

The Lanarkshire club believed they would be allowed to take 2,000 fans to tonight's Ibrox opener, but were then informed they can bring just 950.

So Fir Park chiefs - who were ready to hand Gers the entire 4,800-capacity South Stand - responded by cutting the Championship side's allocation for Sunday's crucial promotion decider to 1,500.

The row follows a similar disagreement involving Rangers and Hibernian during last week's semi-final clashes.

McCall can understand why the Steelmen will not want to allow a sizeable Light Blues following to cheer on their team in what could be a decisive clash as they look to end their three-year exile in the lower leagues.

But he claims it is another missed opportunity to showcase the Scottish game in the best possible light.

He said: "I'm disappointed, naturally, because I know that Rangers fans will make themselves heard. We get great backing.

"From a manager's point of view, the fewer number of away fans in your ground the better.

"But from a bigger perspective, it was disappointing to see a lot of empty seats at Easter Road and it will be disappointing to see it at Fir Park.

"I don't know the ins and outs behind this decision, but it's not great. Ibrox is sold out so that's what that is, but Fir Park won't be anywhere near it.

"I saw (Motherwell general manager) Alan Burrows being quoted saying he'd like the rules looked at so there are percentages (of tickets allocated to visiting clubs).

"But this will be the last game in British football this season on Sunday and I'm sure there will be a big audience. It will look poor when the camera pans in behind one goal and there are empty seats."

The Gers have an unchanged squad for the first-leg meeting.

Defender Sebastien Faure, who has been out for several weeks, remains sidelined.

Motherwell do not have any injuries for the trip to Ibrox.

Belfast Telegraph


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