Daly ad­mits to fac­ing dilemma should he score against old club

The Herald - Herald Sport - - RANGERS V DUNDEE UNITED - GARY KE­OWN

BEAR­ING in mind he is brave enough to go pub­lic in de­scrib­ing Stephen Thomp­son, the Dundee United chair­man, as “a good fella”, there must be a dan­ger of the Rangers striker Jon Daly at­tract­ing the same de­gree of flak from his own sup­port­ers as those who used to put their hands up so read­ily for him at Tan­nadice.

Thomp­son has been the cen­tral fig­ure in a pre­dictably ac­ri­mo­nious build-up to a Wil­liam Hill Scot­tish Cup semi-fi­nal that is al­most guar­an­teed to go off like a box of fire­works at Ibrox to­day and whether he goes ahead with talk of avoid­ing the di­rec­tors’ box or not, he is un­likely to able to avoid some de­gree of char­ac­ter ap­praisal from the Rangers fans.

Daly is not quite in the same po­si­tion of be­ing ad­vised to look out the Elvis shades, curly wig and false mous­tache as he makes his way to the game. The chances are a fair pro­por­tion of the United sup­port will re­mem­ber the six years of fine ser­vice he gave them be­fore mov­ing to Glas­gow but the Ir­ish­man is mind­ful of the toxic ri­valry that has de­vel­oped be­tween these two clubs in re­cent years and was un­sure if he would cel­e­brate should he score.

With the for­mer Rangers di­rec­tor Dave King adding fur­ther fuel to the fire last night by de­mand­ing the cur­rent board are starved out of of­fice, Ibrox is likely to be a hot­bed of big and var­ied emo­tions this af­ter­noon but Daly is pre­pared for any­thing that might be thrown his way by the es­ti­mated 13,000-strong away sup­port.

In­deed, with re­cent form sug­gest­ing Ally McCoist’s in­jury-rav­aged side will have to tap into some­thing float­ing around in the ether to have any chance of stand­ing up to what is an at­trac­tive and ex­cit­ing SPFL Pre­mier­ship team, Daly has it in his mind to use any neg­a­tive en­ergy di­rected to­wards him as a pos­i­tive and mo­ti­vat­ing force.

“It is part and par­cel of it,” con­ceded the 31-year-old. “I am ready for any­thing that comes my way. I am sure there will be one or two sup­port­ers with some­thing to say but that’s foot­ball and it is part of the ban­ter that fans bring to the game. I just hope I can feed off what­ever abuse I get, re­spond to it in the right way and put Rangers through to the Scot­tish Cup fi­nal.”

Even within his cir­cle of fam­ily and friends, though, this con­tro­ver­sial visit of United to Ibrox for a semi-fi­nal is a sub­ject Daly has been un­able to es­cape.

The ques­tion of whether he will of­fer up a pub­lic ex­pres­sion of his joy should he find the net against his for­mer club, or keep his head bowed and make a solemn walk back to­wards the half­way line, is one that keeps pop­ping up.

“I have had a few people ask me that and I don’t know,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously, I have a lot of re­spect for Dundee United and a lot of re­spect for Craig Levein and Peter Hous­ton, the people who took me to the club, as well as the chair­man.

“He prob­a­bly doesn’t get on par­tic­u­larly well with Rangers, but I have got time for him. He is a good fella and I have quite a good re­la­tion­ship with him.

“I wouldn’t want to try to rub any­one up the wrong way, but, ob­vi­ously, I am go­ing out to try to get my­self and my team-mates through to a Scot­tish Cup fi­nal. Who is to say

I don’t know if I would cel­e­brate or not. Who is to say emo­tions wouldn’t take over if I bagged a 92nd-minute win­ner?

that the emo­tions won’t take over if I score a 92nd-minute win­ner? It is a dif­fi­cult one. I hon­estly don’t know if I will or I won’t [cel­e­brate].

“I won’t be go­ing out to wind people be­cause I still have a lot of re­spect for the club and the boys still there, but I’ll be go­ing out to do ev­ery­thing I can to help the team-mates I have now, the man­ager and ev­ery­one at the club, get a day for our­selves at a Scot­tish Cup fi­nal.”

Rangers have had to add their goal­keeper Cammy Bell, knocked out in train­ing on Tues­day, to a list of ab­sen­tees that also in­cludes David Tem­ple­ton, Andy Lit­tle and Lewis Ma­cleod, with Lee Wal­lace, ac­cord­ing to McCoist, re­quir­ing a “mir­a­cle” to re­cover from a hip prob­lem.

Daly is still con­fi­dent his team can win, though, and in­sists the club’s strait­ened cir­cum­stances should not be used as an ex­cuse to give up on dream­ing about reach­ing fi­nals and lift­ing tro­phies.

“I don’t think ex­pec­ta­tion lev­els should come down,” he said. “It is a fan­tas­tic club with great his­tory and it is up to the play­ers to go out there and make sure that ex­pec­ta­tion level is matched.

“We lost the Rams­dens Cup fi­nal last weekend but we can’t dwell on that with a game like this com­ing up.

“I would imag­ine the at­mos­phere will be ab­so­lutely red-hot and I hope ev­ery­one be­haves them­selves.”

McCoist has also called on sup­port­ers of both sides to be con­scious, no mat­ter how in­flamed pas­sions may be­come, of the need to make sure this fix­ture, ar­guably the most at­trac­tive and in­trigu­ing game of the do­mes­tic sea­son, does not de­scend into some­thing dis­taste­ful.

“I don’t have a prob­lem with them [United],” the Rangers man­ager said. “I’ve known Jackie McNa­mara for 100 years or so and I know Si­mon Don­nelly re­ally well too. I can’t com­ment on board­room level, but I would hope there would be no prob­lem and ex­pect no prob­lem.”

Prob­lems seem in­evitable for the McCoist and his play­ers on the park, though. Rangers have a huge task ahead of them. A de­feat, par­tic­u­larly a re­sound­ing one, would al­most cer­tainly bring more of the op­pro­brium that cas­caded from the Easter Road stands in the wake of that Rams­dens Cup fi­nal loss to Raith

That might be the cue f or Thomp­son to put the dis­guise back on and make for the near­est exit.

Pic­ture: SNS

BRING IT ON: Jon Daly, the for­mer Dundee United striker, says he will feed off any abuse that comes his way.

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