Mind The Gap
Updated Thursday, 16th September 2010
Rangers were playing in the big playground on Tuesday and were able to hold their own.
|Craig Brown believes Rangers showed they had mastered the art of defending against Manchester United as they briefly bridged the huge financial chasm between the clubs. But the Motherwell manager admits there is no chance of his or any other team in Scotland closing a similar gap separating them with the Old Firm on a consistent basis. The odds against Rangers winning at Old Trafford were 24/1 with some bookmakers ahead of their goalless Champions League clash. Such a position as massive underdogs is an unfamiliar feeling for the club, who were one of Europe's biggest spenders in decades gone by. But, despite such declining wealth and status on the European front, coupled with Celtic's disappointing overseas campaign, the Old Firm already find themselves with double the points of their nearest challengers in the SPL. Both have won all four of their opening games while fellow top-four clubs Aberdeen and Motherwell are six points behind. And Brown admits Aberdeen's visit to Fir Park on Saturday is crucial only in terms of finishing ahead of the chasing pack rather than closing the gap on the Glasgow giants.
He said: "There are two teams six points ahead after four matches so that tells you something, that the competition is outwith the Old Firm. It's not worrying, it's just realistic. That's where you expect them to be with the resources they have. It's the same in Europe, Rangers and Celtic have a huge disadvantage when they come up against the big English teams. Manchester United, from television alone, start at a credit of £50million. The bottom team in the English Premier League gets £30million and Rangers and Celtic get about £2million. The bottom team in England, and I know because I was at Derby, gets two parachute payments of £11million. So they start at a huge disadvantage, as we do in Scotland because attendances are the big discrepancy."
Hearts were the last non-Old Firm team to finish in the top two, in 2006, but their spending has since been severely curtailed. And Brown said: "I'm not defeatist to say we can't compete and will never manage to finish in the top two. Even bigger clubs with far better resources like Hearts and Aberdeen, I don't see them ever splitting the Old Firm. That's realistic. The objective at Motherwell is to finish top of the 10-team league. Again that's optimistic because we have less resources than Hearts, Hibs, Aberdeen, Dundee United, but we have as much determination and we are desperate to be the best of the rest."
While that acceptance may be depressing for some supporters, Brown believes Scottish football has cause for satisfaction this week after Rangers comfortably shut out United as Walter Smith got the better of his tactical battle with old friend Sir Alex Ferguson. Brown said: "It's not only great credit for Rangers FC but they did a wonderful turn for Scottish football and the SPL. Walter was correct in saying he was very proud of his team, and I think we outwith Rangers Football Club are very proud. It wasn't really anti-football because there is an art in defending and Rangers set themselves up exceptionally well. We are a small nation in football terms and we have to accept that."
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