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Monday, January 15, 2007
Smith defends decision to reinstate Ferguson

Rangers manager Walter Smith has defended his decision to make Barry Ferguson captain so soon after he was stripped of the armband by previous boss Paul Le Guen.

Le Guen accused Ferguson of undermining his authority and having too much influence in the dressing room - before parting company with the Light Blues within days of falling out with his deposed skipper.

Ferguson resumed the role of captain for the first game of Smith's second spell in charge at Ibrox, Saturday's 5-0 win over Dundee United.

And Smith said: 'What you've got to remember is that he was captain of Rangers for a while and has been captain of Scotland for the last couple of years.

'If you had asked people two weeks ago about Barry Ferguson, they would have been happy to tell you he was the captain of club and country. If there was a problem there then, as long as it doesn't arise again, we will be delighted.

'Barry is delighted to be the captain of Rangers, he's delighted to be the captain of Scotland and I'm delighted to have him as the captain.'

Smith revealed he made the decision to reinstate Ferguson as skipper within 24 hours of returning to the Ibrox helm.

And he hopes the debate over the captaincy will be forgotten as fans turn their focus to events on the pitch instead.

He added: 'It was on Thursday [I made the decision]. Like everything else, everybody can have their opinions. But my opinion is that he's a really good player, he wants to be the captain of Rangers and, if that's the best thing for Rangers, then great.

'I've just had to look at the circumstances overall and do what I think is the best thing - and I think this is the best thing for the club, the player and for me.

'It's something I hope now will be firmly placed in the background and any question marks over his captaincy will be eradicated.'

Meanwhile, Smith believes Le Guen's reputation as a manager should not be tarnished by his ill-fated spell at Rangers, which lasted just seven months.

He said: 'The last manager, in my eyes, is a respected manager. I met him on a number of occasions and I found him a very, very nice fellow.

'Paul Le Guen had a great reputation in France and, if he found it a wee bit of a struggle here, maybe it was down to cultural differences as much as anything.

'I don't know whether I would want to go to France and try to handle that. He was bold enough to come and try it and he was bold enough to say when it wasn't working and to walk away.'




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