Smith praises Rangers' collective effort as Weir picks up player of the year award

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, and his captain David Weir may have been singled out for the Scottish Premier League's end-of-season awards, but Smith believes any one of the players in his dressing room would have been a worthwhile candidate.

Smith was named manager of the season at an awards ceremony in Glasgow on Monday night after taking the Scottish champions to within touching distance of a second successive title, which could be confirmed this weekend with a win at Hibernian or if Celtic lose to Dundee United earlier in the day.

Weir could be celebrating again next month after being shortlisted, along with team-mates Kris Boyd, Steven Davis and Andy Webster – on loan at United this season – for the Professional Footballers' Association Scotland player of the year.

Smith said: "It has been a real team effort, I don't think there is any doubt about that. We have a situation where we have a great number of players in our team who have played exceptionally well.

"We have a small group of players so we have had to rely on a lot of them to do well over the season. They have managed to do that for us and we are delighted that has been the case.

"I wouldn't say I'm surprised," Smith added. "When you have the same group year in, year out as we have had, a lot of the boys have been with us for about three years, and we know they can achieve a level of success.

"The only thing about this season was the fact that we worried about injuries and suspensions and other things affecting us. We have managed, so far, to get over that aspect of it and it leads us within inches of another championship. That's been a terrific thing for us, it's been a terrific performance by all the players at the club this season. Maybe one of the major benefits we have had is that we have been together for so long."

Smith believes another successful season has again justified his decision to quit as Scotland manager and return for a second spell at Ibrox three years ago. Reflecting on a campaign, which has been challenging amid ongoing uncertainty surrounding the club, he said: "It's one of the reasons I came to Rangers, you have an opportunity to gain a level of success.

"In the job I was in as Scotland manager, success would be qualifying for a major tournament. You get more opportunities if you are at a club like Rangers – and Celtic – to win things.

"I made that decision to come back and so far it has turned out OK. Obviously, it would be far better if we could clinch the championship again this season."

But Smith also warned making it a hat-trick of titles next season will be far more difficult if the club persists with the business plan agreed with Lloyds Bank.

He said: "Rangers have had periods of time in their history when they have gone a long while without winning championships and I would hope we won't be going back into that situation.

"This is an important time for Rangers because I don't think there is a full realisation of the exact impact the implementation of the plan currently agreed with the bank for next year will have. I can appreciate the reasons why the plan was put in place, but I'll never agree with it.

"If there is a continued downsizing, then it will impact on our ability to succeed at a time when we need to succeed. The financial people see the team winning the League Cup and with a good opportunity to win the league this season and they probably think whatever they do isn't going to have a major impact or be a damaging influence.

"Unfortunately, they don't realise just what it takes for an Old Firm team to be successful. We have handled it all right this season, but unless we get a little bit of help in terms of increasing our pool of players, it will be very difficult for us to recreate successful circumstances again.

"Under the current circumstances, next year will be extremely difficult. If nothing changes, if there is no buyout or anything like that, it will be an extremely difficult season for Rangers.

I won't say it would be impossible to win the title, but it would be extremely difficult to maintain a level of success."