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Sunday, 5 May, 2002, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
McLeish's double delight
Rangers' skipper Barry Ferguson (left) and boss Alex McLeish parade the Scottish Cup outside Ibrox
Ferguson (left) was singled out by McLeish for praise
Rangers manager Alex McLeish has admitted that lifting two trophies within five months of taking the job had exceeded all his initial expectations.

Peter Lovenkrands' last-gasp winner in a 3-2 victory over Celtic added the Scottish Cup to the CIS Insurance Cup that was secured in March.

And although Celtic emphatically retained their championship crown, Saturday's Hampden Park success was further proof that the balance of power is no longer so heavily weighted towards the east end of Glasgow.

When McLeish left Hibernian in December to succeed Dick Advocaat, his task was a simple one - to try to stop another Celtic clean sweep of the domestic trophies.

It was a similar scenario to the one Martin O'Neill inherited at Celtic fewer than two years ago and one that the Ulsterman also managed to achieve instantly.

I'm here to win things

Alex McLeish
Advocaat achieved the treble in his first season, so did O'Neill, and now McLeish, who inherited a league position that was impossible to improve on, has lifted two cups in as many attempts.

Many pundits will now wonder whether Rangers can be regarded as favourites for next season's title race having beaten Celtic in both cups and shared two draws in the league under the new manager.

It is a sequence that contrasts with the five straight defeats the previous manager left behind.

Expectations

McLeish, who has yet to bring in a new signing to Ibrox, said: "It has exceeded expectations.

"I do expect to win silverware with Rangers though. I didn't come here just to get a better wage and say to my grandkids `I've been to a big club and it didn't work out'.

"I'm here to win things. I want the players to believe that, when they sign for Rangers, they have signed to play to win.

The Ibrox boss played down what effect the victory would have on next season's title race but admitted that the team's turnaround in his five months in charge was perhaps unexpected.

"Round about November, I'm sure people would have said it was looking like a Celtic treble but we have taken two-thirds of the domestic trophies," he said.

"I don't think we will be the favourites next season. I think Celtic will look at this game and say `we have got to get our heads together guys and hold back the challenge of Rangers'.

"That's what drives us all, it keeps us all going and I'm sure that will be the case.

It was a stunning performance by my players and I felt we deserved it

Alex McLeish
He then sportingly praised his adversary at Parkhead, Martin O'Neill.

"Martin is a shrewd man, a great manager and has been a great success.

Rare comeback

It was the first time since 1973, when Tom Forsyth netted for Rangers, that a team had come from behind to win an Old Firm Cup final.

McLeish was understandably delighted by his team's resilience.

He said: "It was an incredible game, a fantastic game. To come back against Celtic twice speaks volumes for the players' commitment because there are not many teams who will do that against Celtic.

Rangers' Peter Lovenkrands celebrates his first of two goals
Lovenkrands first goal was perfectly timed
"In fact, I don't know if any have done it over the period of time that Martin O'Neill has been at the helm.

"So, it was a stunning performance by my players and I felt we deserved it."

Classic timing

McLeish reckoned the timing of Danish stiker Peter Lovenkrands' first goal had been a crucial factor in the game.

He said: "We got back in it right away, which was important. We knew Celtic would be a big threat at set-pieces.

"We had seen the team lines and we had heard the rumours all week and I know that somehow my team got out, which disappoints me.

"I'm disappointed if there are leaks coming from Ibrox.

"Regardless of that, we put out a team to win the game, to have a go and attack and the second goal by Barry was the inspiration we needed at that time."


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04 May 02 | Scottish Cup
04 May 02 | Scottish Cup
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