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Barry's not for giving in yet


Craigy

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Written by Barry's mate and book author, Iain King.

TOLD he is finished, cast as the scapegoat, the cause of all Rangers’ ills.

Barry Ferguson knows the role only too well.

In the wake of the nightmarish Ibrox loss to Caley Thistle and the Co-operative Insurance Final defeat from Celtic the clamour has grown.

It’s been claimed Gers would be better off without him — and he’s been tagged a bully whose very presence is stifling other players.

The flak flies and the glare of the spotlight never dims.

When Ferguson walks into the Amsterdam ArenA on Saturday night — where he led the nation in a 6-0 humbling six years ago — he knows many of his baying critics will be desperate for him to FAIL.

The 31-year-old midfielder knows that if he flops he will face more vilification.

But last night, after a purely precautionary scan on bashed ribs, Ferguson shrugged off any injury fears and joined up with the Scotland squad ready for that World Cup mission against the Dutch.

He reflected on the battering he has taken and said simply: “Look, I have been picking the knives out of my back for years now.

“I am used to it, I will live with it and in a strange way I use the sort of abuse I have taken to HELP me.

“I draw on it, I think at times that it makes me stronger as a footballer.

“It won’t make me run off and hide in the corner.

“There has been some deeply personal stuff written, hurtful and needless attacks that upset my mum.

“I’m not lying. When it gets to that level it affects you. No one wants to see their family upset do they?

“But me? I’m used to it by now and it’s not going to make me pack up and leave. Not a chance.”

Ferguson knows that this has been far from a vintage year in an honour-laden yet controversial career that will always split opinion.

An operation to rebuild his ankle left him playing catch-up and he has not hit the heights he craves.

Before Rangers had the presence of a Ronald de Boer or Giovanni van Bronckhorst to compensate when their captain failed to sparkle.

Now for all the hype over Pedro Mendes, he was missing in action in the Old Firm Final as Ferguson desperately tried to growl some life into a side disintegrating around him.

He’s lived the guts of his life in this hostile footballing environment, is old enough not to con himself.

He stressed: “I have people around me who will be honest with me, People I can trust who tell me when I’m not playing well.

“I don’t have yes men and I don’t need them. I’m not a kid.

“With those people around me and those inside the game I respect I analyse games and I KNOW afterwards when I have not played as well as I can. I’m the first to hold my hands up and this season has had its struggles.

“But I was out for five months after a major ankle operation.

“I realise at Rangers you have to hit the ground running but any player will tell you then that it takes time to recover from that and get back to your best.

“That’s not an excuse, it’s just a fact and for all the stick that is flying about I feel I AM getting back to my peak.

“I’m 31 now, I’ve had the busted kneecap and the rebuilt ankle and I can’t escape from that.

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“There are mornings when you feel glued together when you get out of bed! But I don’t skip training because I still love it.

“It takes a little longer to recover but then I look at Davie Weir, who’ll be 39 in the summer, and think it could be worse.

“Still, he’s a defender and they get life a lot easier back there.”

Scotland head for Holland with no Weir, Kirk Broadfoot or Kris Commons, and with Celtic skipper Stephen McManus looking like another casualty.

Ferguson’s positive medical news yesterday came as a welcome boost for boss George Burley ahead of what must be a career-defining match for the national coach.

The Tartan Army would accept defeat, just not a humiliating loss of the sort we capitulated to the last time in Amsterdam.

Scotland’s bristling skipper is grimly determined to ensure we don’t crumble again.

He said: “These are two totally different teams in this game and the 6-0 match is gone now. Forgotten.

“That doesn’t stop me respecting what we are facing here.

“I’m not big on football on TV but I do watch the Spanish stuff every week and look at how many Dutch players are at Real Madrid.

“If there is one that sticks out for me it’s Wesley Sneijder. I just think he has got a real intelligence in the way he plays. He is a major talent.”

Ferguson took time out recently at Murray Park to meet youngsters chasing Coca-Cola Sevens glory.

Alongside McManus he is backing a tournament that gives thousands of kids the chance to dream of a future in the game.

He said: “Look, I’m not going to moan about my lot in life because a few folk decide to have a pop.

“That’s their right but I grew up dreaming of being the captain of Rangers and Scotland, just like the Coke Sevens players and thousands of other kids.

“I’m lucky, I got there, I did it and it’s going to take more than a pile of criticism to make me give it up.

“Whatever those who feel I am finished at 31 think of me I feel that I earned this honour.

“That’s what this remains to me. An honour. I will cherish it in Amsterdam, the same as always.”

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Getting sick of hearing about this, to be honest. All this 'it makes me stronger and better' crap. Where's the evidence?

I'd say he has been getting better in the recent few games compared to earlier.

Played not bad against ICT, albeit we lost, he looked to be the only one trying.

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