Wednesday 23 January 2019

Smith: No excuses for derby ambush

Rangers manager Walter Smith refused to use their European schedule as an excuse for capitulating in yesterday's Old Firm derby.

The Scottish champions slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Celtic Park, allowing their rivals to stretch their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League to eight points.

The SPL clash was sandwiched between Thursday's Europa League tie against Sporting Lisbon, which ended in a 1-1 draw, and the return leg in Portugal in a few days time.

Smith said: "We played in Champions League games earlier in the season and had to come back and play.

"It doesn't help but it's no excuse overall for the way we played today."

However, Smith has made no secret of the difficulties he has faced in being forced to work with a compact squad.


Asked if he is having to ask too much of his small group of players, Smith said: "Only time will tell us if that's the case. If this game was an indication, then we have a lot to do.

"It's my responsibility to try and get them up to a level that would show that we are better than we were today.

"Up until the turn of the year, I felt that we were handling it and we were doing reasonably well, considering we had Champions League games.

"Since then we haven't really (handled it) and that culminated in this performance, which was as poor as we have had here for a while."

A double from Gary Hooper and a Kris Commons strike secured a comfortable win for Neil Lennon's men, in stark contrast to Rangers' 3-1 win at the same venue in October.

Smith added: "We had a fairly settled team in the first half of the season, while Celtic had a lot of new players to integrate into the team.

"We are now trying to do the same, only at a different time. That's causing us a bit of a problem."

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