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Rangers Rae caught in Ferguson 'crossfire'

3 January 2007 07:37

Newly-appointed Rangers captain Gavin Rae said he'd been "stunned" to become skipper of the Glasgow giants in place of the axed Barry Ferguson.

Rae marshalled Rangers to a 1-0 victory away to Motherwell in the Scottish Premier League on Tuesday in his first game as skipper after Ferguson was dropped by manager Paul Le Guen earlier in the week.

The French boss later admitted that Ferguson, whose two spells with the club span 11 years and more 300 games, had all but played his last Rangers match whilst he remained in charge at Ibrox.

It was a hugely controversial move that sparked fans protests, with Le Guen booed by Rangers supporters as he stepped off the team bus before the win over Motherwell, and one that shocked Rae.

"When I walked into the office and sat down, the manager just said that Barry Ferguson was no longer the Rangers captain," revealed the Scotland midfielder. "That stunned me and what he said after took a while to sink in. All I can remember is him saying I was captain," Rae added.

"I'm caught in the crossfire a little bit, but what's happened between the gaffer (Le Guen) and Barry has nothing to do with me.

"I don't even know what's been said between the pair of them and to be honest I don't want to know. I have so much else to focus on right now.

"I know there will people out there, Rangers supporters, who'll question what's happened. I'm not stupid, I've hardly played this season after coming back from injury.

"I'm more shocked than anyone that I've been handed the armband. But that's not for me to be concerned about and you have to ask the other players what they make of it all."

Scotland midfielder Ferguson's omission stunned former Rangers team-mate Billy Dodds, now a TV expert for satellite station Setanta Sports 1.

"He's told him he'll never play again for Rangers as long as he's manager," Dodds, a close friend of Ferguson, told the station. "Barry asked for the reasons and it was a case of: 'I just don't get on with you'. That's an incredible decision - that's politics, that's nothing to do with football."

Rae's first act as skipper was to lead out a Rangers side that desperately needed three points at Motherwell to maintain their push for second spot in the table, with champions-elect Celtic a huge 17 points in front of their Glasgow rivals.

Aberdeen occupied second place going into the Fir Park clash but Rangers took full advantage of the Dons' goalless draw against Hibernian.

Kris Boyd scored the all important goal in the 70th minute from the penalty spot after Croatia international Dado Prso had been felled by Motherwell keeper Graeme Smith.

Prso was later sent off, along with Motherwell's Marc Fitzpatrick as several players clashed and punches were thrown in the home penalty box.

Nearby, in the east of Glasgow, Celtic continued their unstoppable march towards the title with a 2-0 success against Kilmarnock.

Former Hearts captain Steven Pressley, himself dropped after a fall-out with the Edinburgh club's Lithuanian owner Vladimir Romanov, made his home debut as Japanese playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura again inspired Celtic to victory.

Nakamura's first half free-kick allowed Darren O'Dea to turn and drill the ball home before Aiden McGeady sealed the win late on.

Elsewhere Hearts kept the pressure on Aberdeen and Rangers with a 1-0 win away to Dunfermline, Czech Republic striker Michal Pospisil netting the goal.

- AFP

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Premiership table

# Team MP D P
1 13 +18 29
2 14 +10 29
3 14 +10 28
4 14 +13 27
5 14 +3 25
6 14 +2 20
7 14 -3 20
8 14 -5 17
9 13 +0 15
10 14 -15 10
11 14 -15 8
12 14 -18 8

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