Saturday 24 February 2018

Smith plans do not change approach - Weir

David Weir has urged Rangers to make their clash with Manchester United a night to remember - but not because it could be boss Walter Smith's final Champions League game at Ibrox.

Smith is set to quit the Scottish champions at the end of the season, meaning the visit of the Barclays Premier League giants will mark his last home game in the competition if the Scottish champions fail to qualify for the last 16.

But, with the possibility of progression to the knockout stages still alive if Rangers can claim victory, Weir insists there are plenty of other reasons to perform on the night, regardless of the manager's retirement plans.

"You don't need an incentive to make it a night to remember and I'm sure the manager won't be thinking like that," said the skipper.

"We, as a group of players, don't think like that.

"We treat every game with respect and a Champions League game here, regardless of the opposition or the circumstances, is a big game.

"I don't think you can turn the volume up in any way, shape or form.

"You've got to approach it the way you would approach any other game. If we're not doing that, there will be a problem."

With defeat in Valencia allowing the Spaniards to leapfrog Rangers into second spot behind United, third place - and a UEFA Cup berth - now appears the most likely outcome for Smith's men, with Turkish champions Bursaspor yet to put any points on the board.

Weir added: "If people had offered us the chance to still be in Europe after Christmas beforehand, we would have been delighted with that.

"We have given ourselves half a chance of something better than that but it's still a long way away and it's still a big ask.

"Playing Manchester United, it doesn't come any harder or bigger than that."

Rangers' cause has not been helped by injury to key personnel, with Madjid Bougherra, Maurice Edu, James Beattie and Andy Webster ruled out, and Sasa Papac rated doubtful.

"It's disappointing," said Weir. "In an ideal world, you would have everybody available and you would be at full strength.

"But the reality of it now is, with so many games and the way the game is, you are always going to pick up injuries.

"We will have a few players missing but it's an opportunity for other people to come in and take their chance. Sometimes that can be the making of people."

While Rangers have a packed treatment room, United are boosted by the return of Wayne Rooney, who is set to make his first start since recovering from an ankle problem.

Weir said: "I'm sure he will be at his best, he usually is. He's usually a handful at any time so I'm sure tomorrow won't be any different.

"I don't think he needs to be any more fired up than usual.

"That's his strength, the fact that he is fired up, that's the kind of lad he is and always has been.

"You can see that he loves football, he enjoys playing football and scoring goals. I don't think that will change."

Press Association

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