I will not quit in summer just to 'go out on high', says Smith

Rangers manager insists that treble-winning season would not hasten retirement
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The Independent Football

The Rangers manager, Walter Smith, has no idea what his future holds beyond the summer, but he will not retire before he is ready just to finish on a high. The 62-year-old, who is working on a non-contract basis, could walk away with his reputation fully intact and further enhanced should Rangers complete the treble in May.

The Ibrox club sit 13 points clear in the Scottish Premier League and face St Mirren in the Co-operative Insurance Cup final on Sunday, with Raith Rovers awaiting them in the last four of the Scottish Cup should they overcome Dundee United.

There is a real prospect of Rangers facing Celtic at Hampden in May to achieve a clean sweep of trophies, which could be the ultimate of swansongs, but Smith admits feeling "trepidation" over his retirement and does not want to regret leaving too soon.

Smith's future may be out of his own hands, with Rangers still up for sale amid debts of around £30m and the London-based property tycoon Andrew Ellis assessing a bid.

But even though the former Scotland manager has refused to commit himself to carrying on if given the opportunity, he looks unlikely to retire of his own accord in the summer, given his continued enjoyment of the job.

"People keep asking me if I will be leaving and the truth is that I don't know because no one knows what is going to happen with the club," Smith told Clyde 1 radio in an interview broadcast last night. "A lot will depend on what is happening at the club and my own mindset.

"There is still a lot of football to be played and it's like everything else – if you finish on a successful spell everyone says, 'Well, you should leave on a high'. I am not of that mind. Whatever happens it will not be a case of going out on a high, it will be if the time is right.

"If Rangers get new owners it could maybe be that they don't want you, or I could say, 'new owners, new start', and they need the freshness of a different management team.

"I genuinely don't know what I am going to do. I was walking in before the Old Firm game a few weeks ago at 11am and I was asking myself, as the nerves got to me, why I was doing this. Then you get a last-minute goal and you remember what the reason is for doing it. I think the feeling when you lose a game is worse than it has ever been and you don't quite get the highs you used to. I certainly feel the defeats much worse than I used to and that aspect of it is quite strange."

Smith was tempted away from the Scotland job to steady the ship at Rangers but quickly turned the club around, collecting four trophies in his first two seasons back in charge as well as leading the team to a Uefa Cup final.

And Smith, who helped the club to nine consecutive titles in his first spell, seven of them clinched as manager, is reluctant to end a good thing. "I must admit at times when I came back to Rangers I didn't think I would be here for any great length of time," he said.

"I think the thing is when I got the sack from Everton and I had a year of not really doing anything before the Scotland job, I quite enjoyed it for three or four months because you are able to do things you can't when you are involved day-to-day with football. After a period of time, though, you wonder whether you want to do that.

"It's even worse this time because there is a finality about retiring and I have to ask myself whether that is something that I really want.

"There is a bit of trepidation about saying I'm going to finish because I am enjoying it. I have no incapacity stopping me doing anything."