McLeish: It’s on Rangers to usurp Aberdeen as best of rest

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - Sport -

Alex McLeish be­lieves the onus is on Rangers to prove they are bet­ter than Aberdeen.

The Gers kicked off the cam­paign hop­ing to push Celtic close for the Premier­ship ti­tle but Bren­dan Rodgers’ ram­pant Hoops have marched off into the dis­tance af­ter open­ing up a 19-point lead over their old ri­vals.

Now Mark War­bur­ton’s Light Blues find them­selves be­ing chased down by the Dons, with Derek McInnes’ side just two points be­hind with a game in hand.

But for­mer Gers man­ager McLeish, who made his name as a cen­tre back while play­ing for Sir Alex Fer­gu­son’s all-con­quer­ing Aberdeen side of the 1980s, reck­ons War­bur­ton’s side should rel­ish the fight.

He said: “That’s the chal­lenge for Rangers. They have to cope with the fact that Aberdeen want to take se­cond place from them.

“It’s been Derek’s men who have been in se­cond place for the last cou­ple of years and they will want to stay there. It’s up to Rangers to prove they are good enough to meet that chal­lenge.

“But Rangers shouldn’t be wor­ry­ing about it. They should be all-out con­fi­dent about prov­ing they are the se­cond best side in the coun­try.

“Mark is try­ing to bol­ster his side with a cou­ple of sign­ings and that should give them an ex­tra bit of qual­ity and ex­tra legs. Now he’s done that he will feel a lit­tle more cer­tain that they are bet­ter equipped to fend off the threat of Aberdeen.”

Gers have opened their Jan­uary busi­ness with the loan cap­tures of Bournemouth mid­fielder Emerson Hyn­d­man and Arse­nal mid­fielder Jon To­ral.

But those short-term ad­di­tions will not ease the con­cerns of sup­port­ers cast­ing a fear­ful eye at Park­head, where Rodgers has al­ready started his plan­ning for next sea­son by sign­ing £2.8mil­lion mid­field an­chor­man Kouassi Eboue. Wal­ter Smith this week sug­gested Light Blues chair­man Dave King needed to risk putting the club fur­ther into debt in or­der to breach the Old Firm spend­ing gap. But McLeish says the cur­rent Gers regime is right to be cau­tious with the Light Blues fi­nances. “Mark will hope these new lads can im­prove the speed of the team,” he said. “I haven’t seen too much of ei­ther player but on pa­per – look­ing at the po­ten­tial they have – Scot­land could be a good plat­form for them.

“This is the mar­ket they are hav­ing to shop in, though. I don’t think Rangers can go big in the trans­fer mar­ket right now.

“They are be­ing very cau­tious and try­ing to bring in the right play­ers for this mo­ment.

“Re­cruit­ment is ab­so­lutely vi­tal over these next few years but right now they can’t go ab­so­lutely crazy in the trans­fer mar­ket. The re­sources just aren’t there and they have to live by their means.”

“Se­cond the last cou­ple of years and they will want to stay there”

Alex McLeish: Reck­ons the chase is on

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