In contrast to the heroic rearguard actions which have defined their UEFA Cup run, Rangers FC's players went firmly on the offensive to defend their playing style.
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In contrast to the heroic rearguard actions which have defined their UEFA Cup run, Rangers FC's players went firmly on the offensive on Tuesday to defend their playing style.
When asked about criticism of the impregnable performances which have brought Rangers such success, Steven Naismith and Allan McGregor insisted their place in the final against FC Zenit St. Petersburg was a triumph of character and team unity.
Striker Naismith took up the cudgels on behalf of a side who have shipped only two goals in eight UEFA Cup games while scoring five, saying: "It is a results-driven business and you'll play any style of football to get success. We have dug in, fought away, and now we are in the final with a great chance of winning it." Goalkeeper McGregor, who kept four clean sheets in the competition before missing the semi-final against ACF Fiorentina through injury, concurred: "It doesn't matter how you play as long as you get results. Nobody has managed to put us out of the UEFA Cup so far."
The 26-year-old last week conceded defeat in his fight for fitness, having been sidelined by an ankle injury since 16 April. Neil Alexander deputised to great effect against Fiorentina and received the unfortunate McGregor's blessing in Tuesday's pre-match press conference. "So long as Neil is man of the match and we win, I'm not bothered," the No1 said. "Neil has come in and done really well. He has looked solid, shown maturity and saved the penalty against Fiorentina. Being a supporter myself, I'll be behind the team 100 per cent."
According to the Scottish international, such dressing-room spirit has been the key to Rangers' march to the City of Manchester Stadium. "Yes, it is difficult with the injury, but I am going to get behind the boys in the same way that the team have been all season – which is probably why we are here. All the boys are together and hopefully we will be together tomorrow night."
The Glasgow outfit's stickability, to use the footballing vernacular, has convinced Naismith, 21, that Walter Smith's men can beat the odds one last time against Zenit. "All the Rangers boys have stuck together and have given everyone the moral support we need," he said. "Hopefully we can show what we have shown all season by being strong in defence and taking a chance when we get it."