Rangers' rivals have more to fear, warns Prso

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The Independent Football

Prso may no longer earn his living tinkering with cars but he threw a spanner into Celtic's aspirations last season and he is equally convinced that Rangers' new French foreign legion can bring another Scottish Premier League title back to Ibrox. The champions begin their defence at home to Livingston today and Prso believes Alex McLeish's side are ready to shift power completely from Parkhead.

The man who once scored four goals in a Champions' League tie for Monaco, in an 8-3 win over Deportivo La Coruña, thought he had seen it all but even Prso was surprised by the events that unfolded in May when Celtic threw away the prize on the final day of the season with just two minutes left at Motherwell. That allowed Rangers to cash in on their 1-0 victory at Hibs and snatch the title.

While Prso savoured the success by lounging on a beach in his native Croatia all summer, McLeish returned to France to lure Brahim Hemdani away from Marseille and Jose Pierre-Fanfan from PSG.

"Hemdani and Fanfan are good players and good signings for the club," reflected Prso. "They were both captain at Marseille and PSG and if you can skipper big clubs like those then you have something to offer other teams. They are not 'pub' players.

"You must speak the language to settle quickly anywhere. I had to do that when I first moved to France," said the Croatian whose mechanical skills paid the bills while he ploughed away in the Third Division with St Raphael until Monaco gambled on him. "I have told the two new lads that they have to forget all about France and the way things were there. It is good for them that they have someone here like me to help them speak English and learn about the club and the team.

"However, they are not 20-year-old boys. These are two experienced players who have both won the title in France and who have played in the Champions' League. They have a lot of experience and can settle quickly. Hemdani is injured now but he can watch the first few games and see the style of football for himself.

"The Scottish game is much quicker than French. I learned that for myself. I knew I had to put in the same effort as my teammates when we did not have the ball. Fanfan is a very tough player, who gave me a lot of hard games when I came up against him at PSG. He will find things fine here."

Indeed, Prso believes that McLeish's side are well equipped to regain their title and produce an impact in the Champions' League. "You always want to be better than last season and improve and we can do that, even though we won the title. I think we are better prepared now than last year. Then, we had a lot of new players and it took time to settle. We had a bad start, after drawing at Aberdeen and losing at Celtic in the first derby, but we came good."

The great irony is that the man plotting an opening day shock at Ibrox was one of McLeish's players before moving abroad to further his own career. Paul Lambert retired from Celtic and took over as manager at Livingston this summer. He played for McLeish when the pair were at Motherwell, before Lambert left in 1996.

"Paul had pedigree as a player," said McLeish. "At Motherwell he was always helping Billy Davies [now Preston manager] to coach a boys' club and then they looked after our youths. You could see that he had coaching potential."