Poverty does strange things to a club. Dundee were left yesterday feeling grateful as Rangers prepared to take Gavin Rae off their hands in a transfer that will allow Dens Park to cheat liquidation for a little bit longer.
Negotations between the clubs are expected to result in the Scotland midfielder moving for around £250,000 when the window opens on 1 January. That is considerably more than the £50,000 originally offered by the Ibrox club, which insulted Jim Duffy so much that he pointed out it barely added up to a fortnight's wages for some of Alex McLeish's players.
Yesterday, two of those expensive high-rollers, Nuno Capucho and Michael Ball - on whom Rangers splashed out a combined fee of £7m - justified their salaries as they scored the first-half goals that allowed the champions to remain eight points adrift of Celtic ahead of Saturday's summit meeting in the Scottish Premier League at Celtic Park.
Rae did not play. He was left out by Duffy to protect him from further aggravating his hamstring injury. "Revenue is more important to me than points on the board at the moment," the Dundee manager said. "The negotiations between the clubs are a bit more amicable now.
"The start was the biggest problem today. We lost a goal early on and that allowed Rangers to dominate. Mikel Arteta was getting on the ball and stroking it about and we were chasing shadows for 20 minutes."
Indeed, Dundee sorely missed the presence of the combative Rae in midfield. They also missed the cutting edge of Fabian Caballero, who regularly scored against Rangers in his three years at Dens Park, but who was one of the 15 players sacked when the administrator moved in six weeks ago after debts of £20m were revealed.
For McLeish, the only thing that mattered was not dropping further behind ahead of the Glasgow derby. "The players were under pressure after the gap went to 11 points with Celtic's win on Saturday," the Rangers manager said. "Celtic will be favourites but hopefully we can surprise them."
Certainly, any nerves were removed once Capucho put Rangers ahead after just six minutes. The Portuguese international has been criticised for most of short stay in Glasgow, but he finished clinically when he met Chris Burke's cross with a firm header.
Nacho Novo is another Dundee player attracting the interest of others to this bargain basement of football but the striker squandered a fine chance to equalise after 20 minutes. Novo's pace exposed Henning Berg but instead of then passing to the unmarked Bobby Linn, the Spaniard went for glory and saw the goalkeeper, Stefan Klos, beat away his shot.
Novo then came close with another measured shot before Dave Mackay's foraging on the right ended with a cross that hit Berg and would have ended up in the net but for Klos. Rangers then swiftly moved further ahead in the 35th minute when Ball's angled free-kick into the box was missed by everyone and beat the goalkeeper, Julian Speroni.
Lee Mair thought he had scored for Dundee just before the interval, but his fierce shot from the edge of the box struck the post and Rangers enjoyed a comfort zone in the second half that was never threatened, though Bobby Linn did get through on two occasions but without an end product.
Goals: Capucho 6 (0-1); Ball 35 (0-2).
Dundee (4-4-2): Speroni; Mackay, Wilkie, Mair, Hernandez; Fotheringham, Sancho (McLean), Brady, Smith; Novo, Linn. Substitutes not used: McCafferty (gk), Macdonald, Cameron, Robertson.
Rangers(4-3-3): Klos; Ricksen, Berg, Moore, Ball; Burke, Arteta, Malcolm; Arveladze (Nerlinger 67), Capucho, Lovenkrands (Vanoli 80). Substitutes not used: McGregor (gk), Ostenstad, Ross.
Referee: D McDonald.
Bookings: Dundee: Fotheringham.
Man of the match: Lovenkrands.
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