McCulloch urges Gers to play safe in Europe

Midfielder believes Walter Smith's defensive tactics will work in Champions League

Lee McCulloch believes Walter Smith's cautious tactics can help Rangers once again reach the latter stages of European competition this year.

Smith's 4-5-1 formation guided Rangers to the 2008 Uefa Cup final after they just missed out on the Champions League knockout stages. Rangers only conceded two goals in eight games on their way to the final in Manchester, with five goals netted in those matches enough to see them past the likes of Werder Bremen and Fiorentina.

Smith's cautious approach was not universally popular as Rangers fans witnessed six goalless draws in Europe that season, with one of them prompting Barcelona playmaker Lionel Messi to brand Gers' play "anti-football".

But McCulloch is happy to go with the same system again in their Champions League campaign against Seville, Stuttgart and Unirea Urziceni. "I think the way we approached the games two seasons ago was spot on," the former Wigan player said.

"It is a 4-5-1 when we are defending but can quickly turn into a 4-3-3 when we are attacking. On the run to Manchester we defended brilliantly and, if we can be tight at the back, we know we have the attacking players to cause our opponents problems.

"When you look around Europe, this is a tactic a lot of teams use, including Manchester United, so I think it can be very effective in the Champions League. Of course, it is up to the gaffer to decide what tactics he uses but the 4-5-1 formation is tried and trusted and it got us to the Uefa Cup final."

Rangers kick off their European campaign next Wednesday in Stuttgart, who they faced during that marathon run two seasons ago. A superb goal from Charlie Adam helped the Gers to a 2-1 victory over the Germans at Ibrox and McCulloch felt they were unlucky to lose 3-2 in the Mercedes-Benz Arena.

"Over in Germany I thought we more than matched them and Charlie again got us off to a great start with a well-taken goal," the 31-year-old told Rangers News. "Unfortunately they scored in the last five minutes to get all three points so that was a sore one for us to take.

"But I think the performance from that night, and especially the one at Ibrox, will give us a bit of hope when we travel to Stuttgart next week."

Rangers first face Motherwell at Fir Park on Saturday, and McCulloch knows even more about their Premier League opponents.

The former Well striker said: "I have been following Motherwell's progress and they have a lot of young players coming through right now. I think their new boss, Jim Gannon, has come in there and done well given the circumstances and, Europe aside, I think they have made a good start. He lost Stephen Hughes, Brian McLean, Bob Malcolm and David Clarkson, big players at the club, and it would have taken a bit of time to get the squad settled again.

"But the players he has brought in look as though they will do a job so I think that Motherwell could be a team to watch out for this season, and I hope they do well.

"I have always said that they are my second team and I always look out for their results and to see who has been playing. Any time I get the chance to go and watch them I will."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee