Walter Smith sees red at Kyle Lafferty's off day for Rangers
Hibernian 0 Rangers 3: Kyle Lafferty has been warned to keep his head or risk losing his place in the Rangers team.
The Northern Ireland striker was dismissed along with Hibernian's Kevin McBride yesterday following a melee sparked by Lafferty's challenge on Liam Miller.
Lafferty reacted to McBride kicking the ball against him, leading to the dismissals.
The incident — which brought about the first red card of Lafferty’s Rangers’ career — took some gloss off the Ibrox men’s 3-0 triumph at Easter Road, with Kenny Miller scoring a hat-trick.
“Kyle has had a couple of things happen to him now and he is going to have to adjust and discipline himself a little better than he has done in the past,” said Gers manager Walter Smith.
“I didn't think there was much in the incident, I think he was sent off for his reaction after the ball was kicked against him. I suppose that's natural.
“He didn't make contact with the boy at all. When he fell down afterwards, the lad kicked the ball against him.
“It was his over-reaction to being hit with the ball, that was why he was sent off and I can't blame the referee for that.
“That's what he's got to watch, but you've also got to look at the situation where the ball was blasted right at him. If you’re going to criticise Lafferty, you've got to criticise the other lad for kicking the ball at him.”
The Rangers player has been no stranger to controversy in the past — most notably when he was retrospectively punished for feigning a headbutt resulting in a red card for then Aberdeen player Charlie Mulgrew in 2009.
The Scottish champions went on to triumph 3-0 thanks to a Kenny Miller hat-trick in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash yesterday despite the dismissal of Lafferty.
Smith said: “I suppose this is the best time to get red and yellow cards when they are all fit but we don't want him to get sent off at any time of the season.
“It was a competitive game, it was a game that we actually needed to kick start our season and that was an unfortunate happening within the game.”
Hibs boss John Hughes claims neither player should have been dismissed.
He said: “Truthfully? I don't think Lafferty's was a sending-off and certainly Kevin McBride's wasn't a sending-off.
“If he wants to pick out McBride for his part, he actually got rag-dolled more than being the aggressor.
“It's a little bit disappointing the players got involved in that, I know emotions run high and you're asking your boys to go and play but the game is hard enough without getting involved in all that and making the referee's job hard.
“But I still don't think McBride's was a sending-off.”
Hughes appeared to suggest the referee changed his story regarding the reason for McBride's red card.
He added: “I asked him at half-time and he said it was for running into him and barging him and that's not the case.
“When I went in to speak to him after the match he said it was because he kicked
the ball at him so that's a little disappointing. It still doesn't merit a red card. But that's football.”
Another flash-point in the game was an altercation between Allan McGregor and Derek Riordan, when TV pictures showed the Rangers goalkeeper went to ground clutching his head despite no contact from the Hibs man.
Unlike the Lafferty-Mulgrew case, McGregor cannot be retrospectively punished for the incident because he did not cause the referee to make an incorrect decision on this occasion.
When asked about the incident afterwards, Hughes said: “That's why we all love it, there is plenty there to talk about.
“Derek and Allan are the best of mates. That's football, it's an emotional game, there are plenty of incidents and we talk about them. That's why we all love it.”
Meanwhile, Vladimir Weiss is confident his loan move to Rangers will boost his career in the long-term despite warnings about the standard of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon — who had also targeted the Manchester City winger — this week spoke of the difficulties he has faced in luring potential signings north of the border because of what he believes to be false perceptions of Scottish football.
Weiss may have opted for Old Firm rivals Rangers instead of the Hoops but fully expects to be challenged in his new surroundings. He said: “People were telling me that this league is not as hard as the Premier League or they were comparing it to the Championship.
“I've seen a lot of games and playing for a club like Rangers is a pleasure for me. I don't think this league is easy at all.
“I've had friends from Slovakia who have played in this league and everybody told me that this league is tough and I can learn a lot this season.
“Rangers want to win the league and I want to win every game in the league. I want to get to the last 16 of the Champions League and go on from there.
“What I want to do is play week in, week out. At my age, I think that's what I need.
“That's why I came here, to get football and get some more experience.”
Although happy to spend this season at Ibrox, Weiss still sees his future at Eastlands.
“I've got three years left and they didn't want me to go on a permanent deal so that means the club sees a future in me,” he said. “Whether I make it in the future is up to me. After this season, I want to be a Manchester City player.