Weir: Rangers have lots of work left to qualify for knockout stages
Friday 22 October 2010
David Weir believes Rangers have given themselves a real chance of progressing to the last 16 of the Champions League. But the Ibrox captain was also keen to temper expectations by warning the Scottish champions there is still a long way to go in Group C.
Rangers were held to a 1-1 draw by Valencia in Glasgow on Wednesday night after Maurice Edu scored at both ends, a result which sees them sit second in the group behind Manchester United after three games.
Walter Smith's men had enough chances to win the game and fans will now be daring to hope for an extended run in the tournament this year.
Weir said: "There is still all to play for. We would have taken that before the group started, five points from the first three games. We've had some difficult games and we are happy with how it has gone so far but there is still a lot of hard work to do.
"We are not going to get ahead of ourselves. We have had a decent start but there are big games still to come. We have given ourselves a chance but nothing more than that."
Weir refused even to accept that the consolation prize of a Europe League spot is the least Rangers can expect, adding: "Not necessarily. There are twists and turns all the time and we have a bit of work to do."
However, the veteran defender did acknowledge the performance against Valencia was one of the best he has been involved in for Rangers on the European stage.
"It's definitely one of them but we have had a few," he said. "We've had relative success in Europe over the years and we have had a lot of good performances. This game was up there, they are a top team and play in one of the best leagues in the world.
"They have really good players and it was a big ask for us but our lads responded really well. It was finely balanced, once they got the goal at the start of the second half it was all to play for. We probably created the better chances and it would have been nice to get the winner we deserved."
Kenny Miller, Steven Naismith and Richard Foster all spurned glorious chances on the night but Weir does not believe their Spanish visitors underestimated Rangers in any way.
He said: "I don't think so. They have seen us play and you just have to give credit to us. We played well. I don't think any team at this level underestimates anybody. There are no easy games at Champions League level."
Rangers now face their biggest domestic game of the season so far when they travel to Celtic Park on Sunday for the first Old Firm derby of the campaign, with both clubs locked on the same points with a 100 per cent record at the top of the Scottish Premier League.
"It's a quick turnaround but we love these Champions League games and we wouldn't have it any other way," said Weir. "Time will tell how it will go on Sunday. We don't have any choice but to play these games but we are delighted to be in the Champions League and we will find out on Sunday how we respond."
Scottish Premier League chief executive Neil Doncaster has warned that reconstruction of the competition is unlikely to be completed by the start of next season despite a widespread appetite for change.
The 12 SPL clubs met again to discuss the issue at Hampden on Wednesday with more talks pencilled in for 1 November. The signs are clubs are veering towards a 14-team league which retains the split but removes the fixture anomalies and inequalities. But no vote was taken and the debate over the size of the top flight and the fixture calendar continues.
The situation is complicated by the fact that former Scottish First Minister Henry McLeish is due to deliver the second part of his report into the game before the end of the year, this time focusing on the professional game after previously exploring the grassroots scene.
Doncaster has been keen to consult with the other governing bodies and admits there is little prospect of change being implemented next season. He told BBC Scotland: "I think it would be ambitious. I am always hopeful that we can achieve things as soon as possible, but there is an awful lot of work to be done and we are only part way through the process.
"There is a general recognition within Scottish football that something needs to change. It is vital that what we do is to achieve something that improves the whole of Scottish football going forward and is not just considered piecemeal.
"We are trying to put forward a whole package of measures that we can then put to the clubs and vote on, because we need 11 hands in the air to achieve any change, so that consensus package is what we are working on."
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