Rangers 5 Dundee United 0: Smith counsels caution after five-goal victory

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The Independent Online

Walter Smith has been there, done that with Rangers, so when he was asked after the first match of his second coming, which ended with the club's biggest League win since October 2004, whether he would need to temper fans' expectations, he laughed. "Expectation levels are always going to be great here, and you can't temper that," he said. "You have to try to rise to meet them."

Smith led Rangers to seven titles between 1991 and 1997 and understands that an Old Firm manager is either a winner or a goner. Paul Le Guen, in seven months, was not the former so became the latter. Not that Smith has anything but respect for the Frenchman. "He's a good man with a proven record as a fine coach," said Smith, as he sipped a glass of celebratory red in relief after a "nervous" start had turned into a joyous comeback.

For the first 20 minutes in wet, windy and swampy conditions that threatened a call-off at half-time, Rangers were meek and the best chance fell to United, who had a shot cleared from the line by the error-prone Karl Svensson. But then two howlers allowed the hosts to gain control. First Derek Stillie ran out of his area unnecessarily to clear, badly, and Charlie Adam thumped into the empty net from 45 yards. Then, amid poor defending, Chris Burke headed in for 2-0. United fell apart, which their manager, Craig Levein, acknowledged in a scathing press conference.

Adam and Burke were among the star performers. Kris Boyd was less stellar despite two second-half swept-in goals from crosses. He could have scored three more but lacked killer instinct. Barry Ferguson, reinstated as captain - "For good, and for the good of the club, the player and me," said Smith - lashed the fifth from an acute angle late on.

Le Guen's fall-out with Ferguson, and concerns he would never understand the local mentality, prompted his resignation. Smith said: "He was bold enough to try his luck here, and bold enough to walk away when it didn't work. If I went to work in France, I might struggle. I think [Le Guen's failure] was down to cultural reasons. Maybe I can handle things better because I understand the culture, and maybe the players will respond to me in a way that they didn't respond to him."

The defender Alan Hutton talked of the "buzz" around the club since Smith and his assistant, Ally McCoist, took over last week. Music is allowed in the dressing-room before kick-off. Le Guen preferred the players to prepare in quiet contemplation. McCoist, the same bundle of energy he was when becoming Rangers' record scorer, is "brilliant" and "an inspiration", Hutton said.

Smith had the last, and wisest, words: "It was a good start for us. But now we have to show that level of consistency."

Goals: Adam (23) 1-0; Burke (36) 2-0; Boyd (59) 3-0; Boyd (68) 4-0; Ferguson (88) 5-0.

Rangers (4-4-2): McGregor; Hutton, Svensson, Hemdani, Murray; Burke (Sebo, 74), Ferguson, Clement, Adam; Boyd, Prso (Novo, 41). Substitutes not used: Klos (gk), Papac, Rae, Lowing, Lennon.

Dundee United (4-5-1): Stillie; Dillon, Kenneth (Archibald, h-t), McCracken, Duff; Samuel (Hunt, 52), Cameron (Gomis, 81), Kerr, Conway, Robertson; Daly. Substitutes not used: McLean (gk), Easton, Watson, Goodwillie.

Referee: C Mackay.

Booked: Rangers Svensson; Dundee United Kerr.

Man of the match: Adam.

Attendance: 50,276.

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