Football: Belligerent Advocaat turns attention to Europe

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Celtic 0 Rangers 1

IT IS doubtful if Dick Advocaat was in much of a position to notice Gordon Ramsay smiling down from the VIP section of Hampden Park as the Rangers coach was tossed into the air by his jubilant players, with the same aplomb as the chef demonstrates with his pans.

Yet, the raucous celebrations after the Scottish Cup final victory over Celtic must have convinced Ramsay that it is worth sticking to his blunt style of man-management. The enfant terrible of the restaurant world shares the same philosophy as the brusque Advocaat, yet there out on the pitch was the proof of the pudding: nothing tastes better than success.

Advocaat, like Ramsay - whose rejection by Rangers in the mid-80s after three years in the reserves prompted the switch from football to food - has hectored and bullied his multi-national squad of players all season. Unfortunately, there were no Channel 4 cameras around, but no one in the dressing-room was left in any doubt that there was only one way to do things: Dick's way.

Colin Hendry was rebuked during his first match after signing from Blackburn Rovers by the Dutchman known as the Little General. "I had played the ball down the channels to Rod Wallace because that's how Leeds had used him," said Hendry, "but Dick bawled at me when we came into the dressing- room `that's not how we do it here, Colin - build from the back!'"

Well, the first phase of Advocaat's building is now complete. Wallace's 49th-minute goal ensured a clean sweep of domestic honours to emulate the treble achieved under Walter Smith in 1993 and only the sixth in the club's 126-year history. Not bad for a first season in charge.

Now Advocaat, who revealed after the match that he has signed a two-year extension to his contract to keep him at Ibrox until 2002, is setting his sights on the far more testing, and palatable, task of Europe. To the Dutchman, the Champions' League is like that coveted extra Michelin star to Ramsay.

More importantly, he does not mind breaking a few eggs, or egos, to make the omelette.

The precious Stephane Guivarc'h has already found the heat in Ibrox's kitchen too strong and will be heading back to France this summer, probably joined by Argentinian Gabriel Amato, former Juventus defender Sergio Porrini and midfielder Charlie Miller as Advocaat tries to raise money.

The pounds 40m spent on building this squad has drained even Rangers' resources, and Advocaat admitted after the match: "The chairman [David Murray] says I have no money to buy, so we have to sell because the squads needs to be improved.

"We had 15 new players coming in and it has been a long and demanding season, but to win the three prizes makes me very proud.

"But we must add new players to compete in Europe. That is why I signed the new contract. It gives me three years to do the job I want here."

The hero of the hour, and the bargain of the year - given that he did not cost a transfer fee - was Wallace. After the 27th goal of a superb season, the striker revealed the secret recipe of success.

"All the players sit down to lunch together at 1.30pm every day. People say that makes Dick a strict disciplinarian, but I say it builds team spirit and ours has been unbreakable all season."

Not so Celtic's. The early-season dispute between players and management over a Champions' League bonus saw them exit Europe and hand the initiative to Rangers domestically. Everything since then has simply been catch-up, and in that, they ultimately failed too.

True, influential players such as Marc Rieper and Craig Burley were denied to their coach, Jozef Venglos, through injury. Good fortune was also absent, for had Paul Lambert's awesome 30-yard volley in the final found the net instead of the crossbar, then Celtic might have capitalised on their first- half pressure at Hampden.

But once Wallace buried his chance after Tony Vidmar's cross was knocked into his path by Neil McCann, Celtic, despite the pressure, were unconvincing in their pursuit of an equaliser.

The jaded Henrik Larsson lacked support which made Venglos's quixotic decision to not even find a place on the bench for Mark Burchill - the teenager who has scored eight goals from only five starts - all the more incredible.

The Celtic supporters, who emptied the splendid new Hampden arena without waiting to console their team, were entitled to ask, as Gordon Ramsay once famously said on television to a beleaguered worker: "Are you taking the piss?"

Goal: Wallace (49).

Celtic (4-4-2): Gould; Boyd, Stubbs, Mjallby, Annoni (Johnson, 60); Wieghorst, Lambert, Blinker, Mahe (O'Donnell, 78); Larsson, Moravcik. Substitute not used: Kerr (gk).

Rangers (4-4-2): Klos; Porrini (Kanchelskis, 78), Hendry, Amoruso, Vidmar; McInnes, Van Brockhorst, Albertz, McCann (Ferguson,67); Wallace, Amato (Wilson, 90).

Referee: H Dallas (Motherwell).

Bookings: Celtic: Mjallby, Blinker, Wieghorst, Boyd. Rangers: Wallace.

Man of the match: Klos.

Attendance: 51,746.

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