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Magic: We can't have any more slip-ups. It's about winning and that is all now


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Exclusive by Alison McConnell

SOMETHING got lost in translation last weekend. But, regardless of whether or not Madjid Bougherra took fright when his comments about winning the league or quitting Rangers caused a furore among the Ibrox support, the fact remains the defender has done his real talking on the pitch this season.

The French Algerian has been the stand-out performer in the heart of the Ibrox defence, ensuring Carlos Cuellar's move to Aston Villa left nothing but a significant transfer fee in the bank.

That Bougherra has succeeded in filling the void left by the Spaniard says much about the impact he has had in his debut campaign at Rangers.

Whether he goes at the end of the season or not is immaterial at the present minute since nothing can overshadow the importance of the five remaining league games that will determine more than just the title winners.

But Rangers will have to win this weekend without Bougherra. That may be an early indication of what they'll be doing next season, but thoughts on that scenario can wait until later.

The defender will sit out Hearts this weekend as he serves a one-game ban, but will return to the side for the crucial Old Firm derby against Celtic on May 9.

Celtic play at Pittodrie this Saturday lunchtime before Rangers take on Hearts at Ibrox on Sunday, with Bougherra having to watch from the stand.

He will be an agitated spectator. "I don't have British satellite TV at home," said the defender. "But when Celtic are playing and it isn't on the same day as us, I do put on the computer and look at the score coming through on the internet. Of course I get excited if they are losing points. I will probably tune in this weekend because we know that it would give us a big boost if they were to drop points against Aberdeen."

Winning the Championship has never held such importance in recent years.

It is not merely that Rangers can prevent Celtic from gaining four consecutive titles this term, something that hasn't been done since the Jock Stein era at Celtic Park, but the fact that the golden ticket to the Champions League comes with the prize of the title.

Having missed out on European football this season after their shock exit to Kaunus, Rangers can ill-afford to gamble again on the precariousness of the qualifiers to determine their Continental involvement next season.

Financially, it is imperative for both sides to be involved in the group stages of Europe's elite tournament and, as such, the championship has greater kudos than ever. The automatic entry into the group stages will be lost after this season and with just one point currently separating both halves of the Old Firm, it can go either way.

"The Old Firm game will be a key match, not just for us but for Celtic too," said Bougherra. "Whichever team wins it will take not just the three points, but a lot of confidence too. Every game has the same importance because, with just five games left, if you drop points and lose ground there is not a lot of time to recover.

"We can't have any more slip-ups. It's about winning and that is all now. I think we have a bit of confidence in the side at the minute and that can only help us in these games.

"We have come through a hard spell and have won five games in a row and when you start winning, you want to keep that run going. We have a lot of belief and we think that we can win the league and the Scottish Cup. Getting to the Scottish Cup Final was good for us because it gives us something to look forward to, but the championship is the most important thing."

Bougherra has yet to win any silverware in his career to date and he would love nothing more than to get his hands on a couple of medals.

His comments this weekend putting aside his command of English, suggest that what happens beyond that is uncertain, with both Birmingham and Newcastle apparently lining up moves for the defender in the summer, but Bougherra's priority for the meantime appears to be on the pitch.

"For me it is like five finals we have," he said. "It is frustrating that I will have to sit out one of them, but I am relieved that I am able to play in the game against Celtic and I am also eligible for the Scottish Cup Final too.

"I missed out on the League Cup Final against Celtic so it will be good to play in that one.

"But the league is the one we want and we need to do everything to win the games. It doesn't matter how we do that. It doesn't matter if it isn't good football, we just have to take three points from every game. We cannot afford to have regrets.

"We cannot finish any game now and think that we should have taken just one chance that would have changed the game. We have to given everything we have and win every match.

"The last time we played Hearts we lost two goals after leading by two and we can't make any mistakes like that again.

"It is all about being the very best we can be now."

A shame about the weekend, I think he usually speaks very well.


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No shame imo, purely folk hearing a word he didn't say, presumably his accent betraying him.

Just wish people didn't take the media at face value, especially when it's Clyde.

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