Football: Rangers have style to upset German psyche

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The Independent Online
THE STING of defeat can often be a better method of improving performance than any quantity of nandrolone. If Rangers copy Bayern Munich's prescription on Tuesday night, they will rapidly improve their Champions' League health. Just as the Germans proved last week that they have recovered from the bitter pill they were forced to swallow in the Nou Camp last May, so Dick Advocaat's players must get the disappointment of Valencia washed out of their system and take the three points from Bayern which can put them back in the Group F dogfight.

The 2-1 victory over PSV Eindhoven helped to ease the pain of Ottmar Hitzfeld's stars, who were so traumatised by Manchester United's stunning comeback in last season's final, and two former Scotland internationals, with deep experience of the German psyche, believe that what works in the Bundesliga can work at Ibrox.

Murdo MacLeod and Alan McInally, who played with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich respectively, both stress the need for Rangers to bounce back immediately. Indeed, MacLeod says Bayern are living testimony of why it is foolish to become resigned to failure after just 90 minutes. "Look what happened to Bayern last season," he said. "They lost on the opening night of the group to Brondby, yet still got to the final. In fact, had Peter Schmeichel not made that injury-time mistake in the second game when Manchester United drew 2 -2 in the Olympic Stadium, then Bayern would have been dead and buried. The Germans never give up on anything. There is no such thing as a lost cause and I hope Dick Advocaat tells his players that between now and Tuesday, to build them up."

It was the nature of Rangers' defeat in Valencia, timid and lacking inspiration, which prompted the "Bayern or bust!" headlines from the tabloids. Even Advocaat, a man who has seen it all as manager of PSV Eindhoven and Holland, was taken aback. "When I see the reaction to our defeat by Valencia, I stop and wonder," he said on Thursday. "Especially about some of the coverage in the newspapers. One day you are being applauded, the next you are down and being criticised. I can accept that but I don't enjoy it."

One of the critics was McInally. The former Aston Villa and Celtic striker was in Valencia as a television summariser, and said simply: "Rangers had no fight and were second best in everything - it's better just to put it down to a bad day at the office." McInally believes that Advocaat will not only rouse his players, but also choose different tactics. "Playing three men up front did not work, especially Amato, who was poor," he reflected. McInally believes, however, that Rangers are a different proposition to the team Bayern faced on their last visit to Ibrox in 1989, when the Scot was in their ranks. "We won so easily [3-0] because Rangers played a British up-and-at-'em style, chasing the game. That's no longer the case."

MacLeod, who maintains close links with Germany, added: "Rangers gained a lot of respect for themselves when they knocked Bayer Leverkusen out of the Uefa Cup last season. The one thing that marks out Advocaat is that he is not afraid to change things. I still think Rangers can go through with Bayern if they win this one."