Monday 18 December 2017

Smith claims serial killers are treated better than Diouf

Roddy Forsyth

Only if it were possible to inscribe 'Welcome to Scotland' with studs on his shins could El-Hadji Diouf have received a more emphatic indication of what he might expect from opponents during his loan spell with Rangers.

On his debut against on Wednesday, three Hearts players were cautioned for fouling him.

Asked how he felt Diouf had coped with his inauguration into the SPL, Walter Smith remarked with feeling that "serial killers get better publicity than he has".

Smith was not available to discuss the matter further yesterday, ahead of Sunday's Scottish Cup fifth-round Old Firm derby at Ibrox, but the matter was top of the agenda for his assistant, Ally McCoist.

"I have actually found the reaction a little bit distasteful," said McCoist.

"It has been interesting to hear and read all these people speaking from their pulpits on the rights and wrongs. We've all made mistakes. We will all continue to make mistakes. Hopefully we all learn from mistakes. If you learn, you have a chance.

"Some people are getting involved a little bit too deeply for me. Some of it has been ridiculous. We have signed a player who has had one or two problems in his past. So we want to help him. We want to do everything we can to help him.

"I am sure that will be the same with the players in the dressing-room. He's one of them now. He is in their midst, and you would do anything to help a team-mate."

Nevertheless, Smith will not avoid an indictment if Diouf should expose the coarse and unattractive side of his nature -- most vividly demonstrated in his history of spitting at fans and opponents -- especially since one of the most notorious of these episodes occurred in a Uefa Cup tie at Celtic Park with Liverpool in 2003 and resulted in him being fined £5,000 by a Glasgow court.

Chance being a fine thing when it comes to the fixture list, Diouf is in line for a start against Celtic because of the injury to Lee McCulloch which saw the new signing come on as an early substitute against Hearts.

When it was put to him that signing Diouf ahead of a schedule that includes at least three Old Firm collisions in quick succession was the equivalent of hiring a chauffeur with a long list of penalty points on his licence, McCoist acknowledged the hazard.

"I accept there is an element of risk. You look at the incident at Celtic Park and a couple of other red cards and of course there's a risk," McCoist said.

"We hope to minimise that risk as much as we can. The best way for that to happen is to let him play and express himself.

"There's no reason for us not to involve him against Celtic. He's only been here 48 hours and he has mixed in great with everyone. He's a nice lad.

"He talks to all the boys and, watching him on Wednesday night and in training, he cares about his football.

"There's always a fine line but I would far rather work with someone who cares about their football than someone who just turns up, takes their money and does not give two monkeys.

"He is certainly not that type. You do your homework on your signings and everyone we spoke to said that there were situations in games where he could lose it -- we've seen that happen before -- but in terms of ability he has a lot to offer.

enjoys

"They said that it was a no-brainer given the way he wants to work and the fact he enjoys his football. We want him to enjoy his football.

"We want him to score goals and make goals. We want him to stay on the park. I think he knows that. It would be hypocritical of me to take anyone aside and lecture them on how to calm down in an Old Firm game."

When it was suggested that it was inevitable that teams would test Diouf's combustibility, McCoist admitted that the probability had been factored in by him and Smith.

"I would think he will be targeted by the opposition," said the former Ibrox forward, who experienced similar treatment on occasions.

"That is part and parcel of the game. He is aware of the fact that his reputation has preceded him to Scotland. He just has to cope with that.

"Like the rest of our forwards, he will get kicked or fouled. He just has to get a free-kick or get on with the game." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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